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Bt Thomas Y. Obowuj;. & Oo. 

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So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, 
decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creat- 
ing hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the 
element of human fate to divine destiny ; so long as the three 
great problems of the century — the degradation of man 
through pauperism,the corruption of woman through hunger, 
the crippling of children through lack of light — are unsolved; 
so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world; 
— in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long 
as ignorance and poverty exist on eai*th, books of the nature 
of Le» Misérables cannot fail to be of use. 



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Book Paob 

I. A Just Man 1 

II. The Fall 55 

III. In the Yeae 1817 110 

IV. To Confide is Sometimes to Deliver into a 

Person's Power . . 138 

V. The Descent 151 

VI. Javert 190 

VIL The Champmathieu Affair 201 

VIII. A Counter-Blow 268 

1. Waterloo 1 

II. The Ship Orion 63 

III. Accomplishment of the Promise Made to 

THE Dead Woman 67 

IV. The Gorbeau Hovel 119 

V. For a Black Hunt, a Mute Pack .... 134 

Vli Le Petit-Picpus 164 

VIL Parenthesis 193 

VIII. Cemeteries Take That Which is Committed 

Them 205 


I. Paris Studied in its Atom 1 

IL The Great Bourgeois 20 

III. The Grandfather and the Grandson ... 29 

IV. The Friends of the ABC (^C) 

V. The Excellence of Misfortune 95 

VL The Conjunction of Two Stars 115 

VIL Patron Minette 132 

VIII. The Wicked Poor Man 141 



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Jit Sctiîs* 

I. A Few Pages of History 1 

II. Efonine 36 

111. The House in the Rue Plumet 53 

IV. Succor from Pelow may Turn Out to be 

Succor from on High 87 

V. The End of Which Dors Not Kesemble the 

Beginning 97 

VI. Little Gavroche 113 

VII. Slang 149 

VIII. Enchantments and Desolations 171 

IX. Whither Are They Going ? 205 

X. The 5th of June, 1832 212 

XI. The Atom Fraternizes with the Hurricane, 233 

XII. Corinthe 245 

XIII. Marius Enters the Shadow 277 

XIV. The Grandeurs of Despair 287 

XV. The Rue de l'Homme Arme 305 

gcati lEïalJcatt» 

T. The War Between Four Walls 1 

II. The Intestine of the Leviathan .... 83 

III. Mud but the Soul 102 

IV. JAVERT Derailed 143 

V. Grandson and Grandfather 154 

VI. The Sleepless Night 185 

VII. The Last Draught from the Cup .... 209 

VIII. Fading Away of the Twilight 2.'13 

IX. Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn .... 24(> 


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I. — M. Mtbiel. 

In 1815, M. Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop 
of D. He was an old man of about seventy-five years of age ; 
he had occupied the see of D. since 1806. 

Although this detail has no connection whatever with the 
real substance of what we are about to relate, it will not be 
superfluous, if merely for the sake of exactness in all points, 
to mention here the various rumors and remarks which had 
been in circulation about him from the very moment when he 
arrived in the diocese. True or false, that which is said of men 
often occupies as important a place in their lives, and above all, 
in their destinies, as that which they do. M. Myriel was the son 
of a councillor of the Parliament of Aix ; hence he belonged to the 
nobility of the bar. It was said that his father, destining him to 
be the heir of his own post, had married him at a very early age, 
eighteen or twenty, in accordance with a custom which is rather 
widely prevalent in parliamentary families. In spite of this mar- 
riage, however, it was said that Charles Myriel created a great 
deal of talk. He was well formed, though rather short in stature, 
elegant^ graceful, intelligent ; the whole of tlie first portion of 
his life had been devoted to the world and to gallantry. 

The Revolution came ; events succeeded each otlier with pre- 
cipitation; the parliamentary families, decimated, pursued, 
hunted down, were dispersed. M. Charles Myriel emigrated 
to Italy at the very beginning of the Revolution. There his 
wife died of a malady of the chest, from which she had long 
suffered. He had no children. What took place next in the 
fate of M. Myriel? The ruin of the French society of the 
olden days, the fall of his own family, the tragic spectacles of 
'93, which were, perhaps, even more alarming to the emigrants 



who viewed them from a distance, with the magnifying powen 
of tenor, — did these cause the ideas of renunciation and soli- 
tude to germinate in him? Was he, in the midst of these dis- 
tractions, these affections which absorbed his life, suddenly 
smitten with one of those mysterious ftiid terrible blows which 
sometimes overwhelm, by striking to his heart, a man whoa 
public catastrophes would not shake, by striking at his exist 
ence and his fortune ? No one could have told : all that was 
known was, that when he returned from Italy he was a priest. 

In 1804, M. Myriel was the Curé of B. [Brignolles]. He 
was already advanced in years, and lived in a very retired 

About the epoch of the coronation, some petty affair con- 
nected with his curacy — just what, is not precisely known — took 
him to Paris. Among other powerful persons to whom he 
went to solicit aid for liis parishioners was M. le Cardinal Fesch. 
One day, when tlie Pimperor had come to visit his uncle, the 
worthy Curé, who was waiting in the anteroom, found himself 
present when His Majesty passed. Napoleou, on finding him- 
self observed with a certain curiosity by this old man, turned 
round and said abruptly : — 

" Who is this good man who is staring at me?" 

** Sire," said M. Myriel, " you are looking at a good man, 
and I at a great man. Each of us can profit by it." 

That very evening, the P2mpcror asked the Cardinal the name 
of the Curé, and some time afterwards M, Myriel was utterly 
astonished to learn that he had been appointed Bishop of D. 

What truth was there, after all, in the stories which were 
Invented as to the early portion of M. Myriel's life? No one 
knew. Very few families had been acquainted with the Myriel 
family before the Revolution. 

M. Myriel had to undergo the fate of every newcomer in a 
little town, where there are many mouths which talk, and very 
few heads which think. He was obliged to undergo it although 
he was a bishop, and because he was a bishop. But after all, 
the rumors with which his name was connected were nimors 
only, — noise, sayings, words; loss than words — palabres^ as 
the energetic language of the Soutli expresses it. 

However that may be, after nine years of episcopal power 
and of residence in D., all the stories and subjects of con- 
versation which engross petty towns and petty people at the 
outset had fallen into profound oblivion. No one would have 
dared to mention them; no one would have dared to recaP 


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M. Myriel bad anrired at D. accompanied by an elderly spin • 
»ter, Mademoiselle Baptistine, who was his sister, and ten 
years his junior. 

Their only domestic waâ a female servant of the same age 
as Mademoiselle Bap tis tine, and named Madame Magloire, 
who, after having been the servant of M. le Curé, now assumed 
the double title of maid to Mademoiselle and housekeeper to 

Mademoiselle Baptistine was a long, pale, thin, gentle creature ; 
Bhe realized the ideal expressed by the word ^' respectable" ; for 
it seems that a woman must needs be a mother in order to be 
venerable. She had never been pretty ; lier whole life, wiiirh 
had been nothing but a succession of holy deeds, had finally 
conferred upon her a sort of pallor and transparency ; and as 
she advanced in years she had acquired what may be called the 
t>eauty of goodness. What had been leanness in her youth 
had become transparency in her maturity ; and this diaphaneity 
allowed the angel to be seen. She was a soul rather than a 
virgin. Her person seemed made of a shadow ; there was hardl}' 
sufficient body to provide for sex ; a little matter enclosing a 
light ; large eyes forcver drooping ; — a mere pretext for a 
soul's remaining on the earth. 

Madame Magloire was a little, fat, white old woman, corpu- 
lent and bustling ; always out of breath, — in the first place, 
because of her activity, and in the next, because of her asthma. 

On his arrival, M. Myriel was installed in the episcopal 
palace with the honors required by the Imperial decrees, which 
class a bishop immediately after a major-general. The mayor 
and the president paid the first call on him, and he, in turn, 
paid the first call on the general and the prefect. 

The installation over, the town waited to see its bishop at 

!!• — M. Mtkiel becomes M. Welcome. 

The episcopal palace of D. adjoins the hospital. 

The episcopal palace was a huge and beautiful house, built 
of stone at the beginning of the last century by M. Henri 
Paget, Doctor of Theology of the Faculty of Paris, Abbé of 
Simore, who had been Bishop of D. in 1712. This palace was 
a genuine seignorial residence. EveiTthing about it had a grand 
air, — the apartments of the Bishop, the drawing-rooms, the 
chambers, the principal courtyard, which was very large, with 
walks encircling it under arcades it the old Florentine fashion, 


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aad gardens planted with magnificent trees. In the dining 
ioom, a long and superb gallery which was situated on th^ 
ground-floor and opened on the gardens, M. Henri Puget had 
entertained in state, on July 29, 1714, My Lords Charles Brû^ 
lart de Genlis, archbishop ; Prince d'Embrun ; Antoine de 
Mesgriguy, the capuchin, Bishop of Grasse ; Philippe de Ven- 
dôme, Grand Prior of France, Abbé of Saint Honoré de Lérins ; 
François de Berton de Grillon, bishop, Baron de Vence ; César 
de Sabrau de Forcalquier, bishop, Seignor of Glandève; and 
Jean Soanen, Priest of the Oratory, preacher in ordinary to the 
king, bishop, Seignor of Scnez. The portraits of these seyev 
reverend personages decorated this apartment ; and this memo- 
rable date, the 29th of July, 1714, was there engraved in letterf 
of gold on a table of white marble. 

The hospital was a low and narrow building of a single storyt 
with a small garden. 

Three days after his arrival, the Bishop visited the hospital* 
The visit ended, he had the director requested to be so good a# 
to come to his house. 

^^ Monsieur the director of the hospital," said he to him^ 
*' how many sick people have you at the present moment?" 

" Twenty-six, Monseigneur." 

'' That was the number which I counted,'' said the Bishop. 

" The beds," pursued the director, " are very much crowded 
against each other." 

'' That is what I observed/* 

^^ The halls are nothing but rooms, and it is with difficulty 
that the air can be changed in them." 

" So it seems to me." 

" And then, when there is a ray of sun, the garden is verj 
small for the convalescents." 

" That was what I said to myself." 

'* In case of epidemics, — we have had the typhus fever this 
year ; we had the sweating sickness two years ago, and a hun- 
dred patients at times, — we know not what to do." 

*' That is the thought which occurred to me." 

** What would you have. Monseigneur?" said the director. 
*' One must resign one's self." 

This conversation took place in the gallery dining-room on 
the ground-floor. 

The Bishop remained silent for a moment; then he turned 
abruptly to the director of the hospital. 

"Monsieur," said he, "how man}' beds do you think this 
ball alone would hold ? " 


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*' Monseignecir's dining-room?" exclaimed the stapefied d>- 

The Bishop cast a glance round the apartment, and seemed to 
be taking measures and calculations with his eyes. 

^^ It would hold full twenty beds/' said he, as though speak- 
ing to himself. Then, raising his voice : — 

^^ Hold, Monsieur the director of the hospital, I will tell you 
something. There is evidently a mistake here. There are 
thirty-six of you, in five or six small rooms. There are three 
of us here, and we have room for sixty. There is some mis- 
take, I tell you ; you have my house, and I have yours. Give 
me back my house ; you are at home here." 

On the following day the thirty-six patients were installed in 
the Bishop's palace, and the Bishop was settled in the hospital. 

M. Myriel had no property, his family having been ruined by 
the Revolution. His sister was in receipt of a yearly income of 
five hundred francs, which sufficed for her personal wants at the 
vicarage. M. Myriel received from the State, in his quality of 
bishop, a salary of fifteen thousand francs. On the very day 
when he took up his abode in the hospital, M. Myriel settled on 
the disposition of this sum once for all, in the following man- 
ner. We transcribe here a note made by his^own hand : — 


For the âttle seminary 1,500 livret 

Society of the mission 100 " 

For the Lazarists of Montdidier 100 '« 

Seminary for foreign missions in Paris 200 " 

Congregation of the Holy Spirit 160 *' 

Religious establishments of the Holy Land 100 ** 

Charitable maternity societies 300 *' 

Extra, for that of Aries 60 " 

Work for the amelioration of prisons 400 ** 

Work for the relief and delivery of prisoners 500 ** 

To liberate fathers of families incarcerated for debt . . . 1,000 " 

Addition to the salary of the poor teachers of the diocese . 2,000 *' 

Public granary of the Hautes- Alpes 100 ** 

Congregation of the ladies of D., of Manosque, and of 

Sisteron, for the gratuitous instruction of poor girls . . 1,500 " 

For the poor 6,000 '* 

My personal expenses 1,000 -' 

Total 15,000 « 

M. Myriel made no change in this arrangement during the 
entire period that he occupied the see of D. As has been seen, 
Be called it regukUing his household expenses. 


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This arrangement was accepted with absolute submission b} 
Mademoiselle Baptistine. This holy woman regarded Mon- 
seigneur of D. as at one and the same time her brother and her 
bishop, her friend according to the flesh and her superior 
according to the Church. She simply loved and venerated him. 
When he spoke, she bowed; when he acted, she yielded het 
adherence. Their only servant, Madame Magloire, grumbled 
a little. It wili be observed that Monsieur the Bishop had re- 
served for himself only one thousand livres, which, added to the 
pension of Mademoiselle Baptistine, made fifteen hundred francs 
a year. On these fifteen hundred francs these two old women 
and the old man subsisted. 

And when a village curate came to D., the Bishop still found 
means to entertain him, thanks to the severe economy of Madame 
Magloire, and to the intelligent administration of Mademoiselle 

One day, after he had been in D. about three months, ttie 
Bishop said : — 

^^ And still I am quite cramped with it all I " 

'' I should think so ! " exclaimed Madame Magloire. " Mon- 
seigneur has not even claimed the allowance which the depart- 
ment owes him for the expense of his carriage in town, and for 
his journeys about the diocese. It was customary for bishops 
in former da3*s.'* 

"Hold!" cried the Bishop^ "you are quite right, Madame 

And he made his demand. 

Some time afterwards the General Council took this demand 
under consideration, and voted him an annual sum of three 
thousand francs, under this heading: Allowance to M. the 
Bishop for expenses of carriage^ ea^yenses of 2^osting^ and eos- 
penses of pastoral visits. 

This provoked a great outcry among the local burgesses ; and 
a senator of the .Empire, a former member of the Council of 
the Five Hundred which favored the 18 Brumaire, and who was 
provided with a magnificent senatorial office in the vicinity of the 
town of D., wrote to M. Bigot de Préameneu, the minister of 
public worship, a very angry and confidential note on the sub- 
ject, from which we extract these authentic lines : — 

"Expenses of carriage? What can be done with it in a 
town of less than four thousand inhabitants? Expenses of 
journeys? What is the use of these trips, m the first place? 
Next, how can the posting be accomplished in these mountain- 
ous parts ? There are no roads. No one travels otherwise than 


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on horseback. Even the bridge between Durance and Chàtean* 
Amoux can barely support ox-teams. These priests are all 
thus, greedy and avaricious. This man played the good priest 
when he. first came. Now he does like the rest; he must have 
a carriage and a posting-chaise, he must have luxuries, like the 
bishops of the olden days. Oh, all this priesthood I Things 
will not go well, M. le Comte, until the £inperor has freed us 
from tiiese black-capped rascals. Down with the Pope I [Mat- 
ters were getting embroiled with Rome.] For my part, I am 
for Caesar alone." Etc., etc. 

On the other hand, this affair afforded great delight to Madame 
Magloire. ^^ Good," said she to Mademoiselle Baptistlne ; 
'^ Monseigneur began with other people, but he has had to wind 
up with himself, after all. He has regulated all his charities. 
Now here are three thousand francs for us ! At last ! " 

That same evening the Bishop wrote out and handed to his 
sister a memorandum conceived in the following terms : — 


For fomishiDg meat Boup to the patients in the hospital . « 1,600 livres» 

For the maternity charitable society of Aix 260 " 

For the maternity charitable society of Draguig^an . . . 250 ** 

For foundlings 600 •« 

For orphans 600 « 

Total 3,000 « 

Such was M. MyrieFs budget. 

As for the chance episcopal perquisites, the fees for mairiage 
bans, dispensations, private baptisms, sermons, benedictions, 
of churches or chapels, marriages, etc., the Bishop levied tliem 
on the wealthy with all the more asperity, since he bestowed 
them on the needy. 

After a time, oflfering» of money flowed in. Those who had 
an' I those who lacked knocked at M. Myriel's door, — the latter 
in search of the alms which the former came to deposit. In 
less than a year the Bishop had become the treasurer of all 
benevolence and the cashier of all those in distress. Consid- 
erable sums of money passed through his hands ; but nothing 
could induce him to make any change whatever in his mode of 
life, or add anything superfluous to his bare necessities. 

Far from it. As there is always more wretchedness below 
than there is brotherhood above, all was given away, so to 
speak, before it was received. It was like water on dry soil ; 
oo matter how much money he received, he never had any* 
Then be stripped himself. 


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The usage being that bishops shall announce their baptismal 
names at the head of their charges and their pastoral letters, 
the poor people of the country-side liad selected, with a sort of 
affectionate instinct, among the names and prenomens . of their 
bishop, that which had a meaning for them ; and they never 
called him anything except Monseigneur Bienvenu [Welcome]. 
We will follow their example, and will also call him tluis when 
we have occasion to name him. Moreover, this appellation 
pleased him. 

*' I. like that name," said he. " Bienvenu makes up for the 

We do not claim that the portrait herewith presented is prob- 
able ; we confine ourselves to statmg that it resembles the 

III. — A Hard Bishopric for a Good Bishop. 

The Bishop did not omit his pastoral visits because he had 
converted his carriage into alms. The diocese of D. is a 
fatiguing one. There are very few plains and a great man^ 
mountains ; hardly any roads, as we have just seen ; thirty-two 
curacies, forty-one vicarships, and two hundred and eighty-live 
auxiliary chapels. To visit all these is quite a task. The 
Bishop managed to do it. He went on foot when it waA in tlie 
neighborhood, in a tilted spring-cart when it was on the plain, 
and on a donkey in the mountains. The two old women accom- 
panied him. When the trip was too hard for them, he went 

One day he arrived at Senez, which is an ancient episcopal 
city. He was mounted on an ass. His purse, which was very 
dry at that moment, did not permit him any other equipage. 
The mayor of the town came to receive him at the gate of the 
town, and watched him dismount from his ass, with scandalized 
eyes. Some of the citizens were laughing around him. *> Mon- 
sieur the Mayor," said the Bishop, "and Messieurs Citizens, I 
perceive that I shock you. You think it very arrogant in a poor 
priest to ride an animal which was used by Jesus Christ. I 
have done so from necessity, I assure you, and not from vanity." 

In the course of these trips he was kind and indulgent, and 
talked rather than preached. He never went far in search of 
his arguments and his examples. He quoted to the inhabitants 
' of one district the example of a neighboring district. In the 
cantons where they were harsh to the poor, lie said : *' Look at 
the people of Briançon ! They have conferred on the poor, oi 


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ifîdows and orphans, the right to have their meadows mown 
three days in advance of every one else. They rebuild tlieir 
houses for them gratuitously when they are ruined. Therefore 
it Î8 a country which is blessed by God. For a whole century, 
there has not been a single murderer among them." 

In villages which were greedj' for profit and harvest, he said t 
" Look at the people of Embrun ! If, at the harvest season, 
the father of a family has his son away on service in the army, 
and his daughters at service in the town, and if he is ill and 
incapacitated, the curé recommends him to the prayers of the 
congregation ; and on Sunday, after the mass, all the inhabi- 
tants of the village — men, women, and children — go to tlie 
poor man's field and do his harvesting for him, and carry his 
straw and his grain to his granary." To families divided by 
questions of money and inheritance he said : " Look at the 
mountaineers of Devolny, a country so wild that the nightingale 
is not heard there once in fifty years. Well, when the father of 
a family dies, the boys go off to seek their fortunes, leaving the 
property to the girls, so that they may find husbands." To the 
cantons which had a taste for lawsuits, and where the farmers 
ruined themselves in stamped paper, he said : " Look at those 
jood peasants in the valley of Queyras ! There are three thou- 
sand souls of them. Mon Dieu ! it is like a little republic, 
z^either judge nor bailiff is known there. The mayor does every- 
thing. He allots the imposts, taxes each person conscientiously, 
judges quarrels for nothing, divides inheritances without cliarj^e, 
pronounces sentences gratuitously ; and he is obeyed, because he 
is a just man among simple men." To villages where he found 
no schoolmaster, he quoted once more the people of Queyras : 
"Do you know how they manage?" he said. " Since a little 
country of a dozen or fifteen hearths cannot always support a 
teacher, they have schoolraastei's who are paid by the whole 
valley, who make the round of the villages, spending a week in 
this one, ten da3'8 in that, and instruct them. These teachers 
go to the fairs. I have seen them there. They are to be recog- 
nized by the quill pens which they wear in the cord of their hat. 
Those who teach reading only have one pen ; those who teach 
reading and reckoning have two pens ; those who teach reading, 
reckoning, and Latin have three pens. But what a disgrace to 
be ignorant ! Do like the people of Queyras ! " 

Thus he discoursed gravely and paternally ; in default of 
examples, he invented parables, going directly to the point, with 
few phrases and many images, which characteristic formed the 
real eloquence of Jesus Christ. And being convinced him««'f, 
lie was Dersnasive. 

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IV. — Works corresponding to Words. 

His ccKversation was gay and affable. lie put himself OQ i 
level with the two old women who had passed their lives beside 
him. When he laughed, it was the laugh of a schoolboy. 
Madame Magloire liked to call him Your Grace [ Votre Gh-an- 
deur']. One day he rose from his arm-chair, and went to his 
library in search of a book. This book was on one of the upper 
shelves. As the bishop was rather short of stature, he could 
not reach it. ^^ Madame Magloire," said he, ^^ fetch me a chair. 
My greatness [^grandeur^ does not reach as far as that shell " 

One of his distant relatives, Madame la Comtesse de Lô, rarely 
allowed an opportunity to escape of enumerating, in his pres- 
ence, what she designated as '* the expectations" of her three 
sons. She had numerous relatives, who were very old and 
near to death, and of whom her sons were the natural heirs. 
The youngest of the three was to receive from a grand-aunt a 
good hundred thousand livres of income ; the second was the 
heir by entail to the title of the Duke, his uncle ; tlie eldest was 
to succeed to the peerage of his grandfather. The Bishop was 
accustomed to listen in silence to tl)ese innocent and pardonable 
maternal boasts. On one occasion, however, he appeared to 
be more thoughtful than usual, while Madame de Lô was ré\&% 
ing once again the details of all these inheritances and all these 
" expectations.*' She interrupted lierself impatioptly : " Mon 
Dieu, cousin I What are you thinking about?" '' I am think- 
ing," replied the Bishop, ** of a singular remark, which is to be 
found, I believe, in St. Augustine, — ' Place your hopes in the 
man from whom 3'ou do not inherit.' " 

At another time, on receiving a notification of the decease of 
a gentleman of the country-side, wherein not only the dignities 
of the dead man, but also the feudal and noble qualifications of 
all his relatives, spread over an entire page: "What a stout 
back Death has ! " he exclaimed. " What a strange burden of 
titles is cheerfully imposed on him, and how much wit must men 
have, in order thus to press the tomb into the service of vanity ! " 

He was gifted, on occasion, with a gentle raillerj', which 
almost always concealed a serious meaning. In the course of 
one Lent, a youthful vicar came to D., and preached in the 
cathedral. He was tolerably eloquent. The subject of his ser- 
mon was charity. He urged the rich to give to the poor, in 
order to avoid hell, which he depicted in the most frightful 
manner of which he was capable, and to win paradise, which he 


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cepresented as charming and desirable. Among the audienoe 
there was a wealthy retired merchant, who was somewhat of a 
osurer, named M. Géborand, who had amassed two millions in 
the manufacUure of coarse cloth, seizes, and woollen galloons. 
Never in his whole life had M. Géborand bestowed alms on any 
poor wretch. After the delivery of that sermon, it was observeci 
that he gave a sou every Sunday to the poor old beggar-women 
at the door of the cathedral. There were six of them to shaic 
't. One day the Bishop caught sight of him in the act of be* 
dtowing this chanty, and said to his sister, with a smile, 
** There is M. Géborand purchasing paradise for a sou.*' 

When it was a question of charity, he was not to be rebuffed 
even by a refusal, and on such occasions he gave utterance to 
remarks which induced reflection. Once he was begging for 
itie poor in a drawing-room of the town ; there was present the 
llarquis de Champtercier, a wealthy and avaricious old man, 
nrho contrived to be, at one and the same time, an ultra-royal- 
bit and an ultra-Voltairian. This variety of man has actu- 
ally existed. When the Bishop came to him, he touched his 
«rm, " You must give me something^ M. le Marquis." The 
llarqois turned round and answered dryly, ''^ I have poor people 
if my oumy Monseigneur^" " Oive them to me" replied the 
One day he preached the following sermon in the cathedral :— 
'* My very dear brethren, my good friends, there are thirteen 
hnndred and twenty thousand peasants' dwellings in France 
which have but tlnree openings ; eighteen hundred and seven- 
teen thousand hovels which have but two openings, the door 
and one window; and three hundred and forty-six thousand 
cabins besides which have but one opening, the door. And 
this arises from a thing which is called the tax on doors and 
windows. Just put poor families, old women and little chil- 
dren, in those buildings, and behold the fevers and maladies 
which result! Alas! God gives air to men; the law sells it 
to them. I do not blame the law, but I bless God. In the 
department of the Isère, in the Yar, in the two departments 
of the Alpes, the Hautes, and the Basses, the peasants have 
not even wheelbarrows; they transport their manure on the 
iiacks of men ; they have no candles, and they burn resinous 
■ticks, and bits of lope dipped in pitch. That is the state of 
affairs throughout the whole of the hilly country of Dauphiné. 
Fhey make bread for six months at one time ; tliey bake it with 
Jriod cow-dung. In the winter they break this bread up with 
in «xd and they soak, it for twenty-four hours, in cider to 


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render it eatable. Mj brethren, have pitj 1 behold the saffer 
iug on all sides of you I *' 

Born a Froveuçai, he easily familiarized himself with the dia 
lect of the south. He said, *'J&w bé! moussu^ ses sage?" as îq 
lower Languedoc; ^^ Onté ayiaras passa?'* as in the Basses- 
Alp<« ; ** Puerte un bouen moutu embe vn botœn fromage grcLse,'* 
as in upper Dauphiné. This pleased the people extremely, and 
contributed not a little to win him access to all spirits. He wae 
perfectly at home in the thatched cottage and in tlie mountains, 
fie understood how to say the grandest things in the most vul- 
gar of idioms. As he Bix>ke all tongues, he entered into all 

Moreover, be was the same towards people of the world 
and towards the lower classes. He condemned nothing in 
haste and without taking circumstances into account. He said, 
" Kxamine the road over which the fault has passed.*' 

Being, as he described himself with a smile, an ex-sinner^ he 
had none of the asperities of austerity, and he professed, with 
a good deal of distinctness, and without the frown of the fei-o- 
piously virtuous, a doctrine which may be summed up as fol- 
lows : — 

'* Man has upon him his flesh, which is at once his burden 
ind his temptation. He drags it with him and yields to it. 
He must watch it, check it, repress it, and obey it only at the 
last extremity. There may be some faiilt even in this obedi- 
ence ; but the fault thus committed is venial ; it is a fall, but % 
fall on the knees which may U'rminate in i)rayer. 

*' To be a saint is the exception ; to be an upright man is the 
rule. Err, fall, sin if you will, but be upright. 

" The least possible sin is the law of man. No sin at all is 
the dream of the angel. All which is terrestrial is subject to 
sin. Sin is a gravitation." 

When he saw every one exclaiming very loudly, and growing 
angry very quickly, *' Oh ! oh ! " he said, with a smile ; " to all 
ai)pearancc, this is a great crime which all the world commits 
These are hypocrisies which have taken fright, and are in haste 
to make protest and to put themselves under shelter." 

He was indulgent towards women and poor people, on whom 
Che burden of human society rest. He said, *'The faults of 
women, of children, of the feeble, the indigent, and che igno- 
rant, are the fault of the husbands, the fathers, the masters, 
(he strong, the rich, and the wise." 

He said, moreover, *' Teach those who are ignorant as many 
things as possible ; society is culpable, in that it does not afford 


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iftstroction gratis ; it is responsible for the night which it pro 
daces. This soul is full of shadow ; sin is therein committed. 
The guilty-one is not the person who has committed the sin, 
bat the person who has created the shadow." 

It will be perceived that he had a peculiar manner of his own 
of judging things : I suspect that he obtained it from the Gospel. 

One day he heard a criminal case, which was in preparation 
and on the point of trial, discussed in a drawing-room. A 
mretched man, being at the end of his resources, had coined 
counterfeit money, out of love for a woman, and for the child 
which he had had by her. Counterfeiting was still punishable 
with death at that epoch. The woman had been arrested in the 
act of passing the first false piece made by the man. She wafe 
held, but there were no proofs except against her. She alone 
could accuse her lover, and destroy him by her confession. She 
denied ; they insisted. She persisted in her denial. Thereupon 
an idea occurred to the attorney for the crown. He invented 
an infidelity on the part of the lover, and succeeded, by means 
of fragments of letters cunningly presented, in persuading the 
unfortunate woman that she had a rival, and that the man was 
deceiving her. Thereupon, exasperated by jealousy, she de- 
nounced her lover, confessed all, proved all. 

The man was ruined. He was shortly to be tried at Aix with 
his accomplice. They were relating the matter, and each one 
was expressing enthusiasm over the cleverness of the magis- 
trate. By bringing jealousy into play, he had caused the truth 
to burst forth in wrath, he had educed the justice of revenge. 
The Bishop listened to all this in silence. When they had 
finished, he inquired, — 

*' Where are this man and woman to be tried?'* 

** At the Court of Assizes." 

He went on, '* And where will the advocate of the crown be 

A tragic event occurred at D. A man was condemned to 
leath for murder. He was a wretched fellow, not exactly edu- 
cated, not exactly ignorant, who had been a mountebank at fairs, 
and a writer for the public. The town took a great interest in 
the trial. On the eve of the day fixed for the execution of the 
condemned man, the chaplain of the prison fell ill. A priest 
was needed to attend the criminal in his last moments. The}' 
sent for the curé. It seems that he refused to come, saymg, 
*'That is no aflTair of mine. I have nothing to do with that un- 
pleasant task, and with that mountebank : T, too, am ill ; and 
besides, it is not my olace." Thifl reply was reported to the 


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Bishop, who said, ^^ Monsieur le Curé is right: it is not kia 
place; it is mine." 

He went instiintly to the prisoa, descended to the cell of the 
^^ mountebank," called him by name, took him by the hand, 
and spoke to him. He passed the entire day with him, forget- 
ful of food and sleep, praying to God for the soul of the con- 
demned man, and praying the condemned man for his own. 
He told him the best truths, which are also the most simple* He 
was father, brother, friend ; he was bishop only to bless. He 
taught him every tiling, encouraged and consoled him. The 
man was on the point of dying in despair. Death was an abyss 
to him. As he stood trembling on its mournful brink, he 
recoiled with horror. He was not sufficiently ignorant to be 
absolu ti'ly indifferent. His condemnation, which had been a 
profound shock, had, in a manner, broken tlirough, here and 
there, that wall which separates us from the mystery of things^ 
and which we call life. He gazed incessantly beyond this 
world through these fatal breaches, and beheld only darkness. 
The Bisbop made him see light. 

On the following day, when thej' came to fetch the unhappy 
wretch, the Bishop was still there. He followed him, and 
exhibited himself to the eyes of the crowd in his purple camail 
and with his episcopal cross u|X)n his neck, side by side with 
the criminal bound with cords. 

He mounted the tumbril with him, he mounted the scaffolcj 
with him. The sufferer, who had been so gloomy and cast 
down on the preceding day, was radiant. He felt that his soul 
was reconciled, and he hoped in God. The Bishop embraced 
him, and at the moment when the knife was about to fall, he 
said to him : ** God raises from the dead him whom man slays ; 
he whom his brothers have rejected finds his Father once more. 
Pray, believe, enter into life : the Father is there." When he 
descended from the scaffold, there was something in his look, 
which made the people draw aside to let liim pass. They did 
not know which was most wortliy of admiration, his pallor or 
his serenity. On his return to the humble dwelling, which he 
designated, with a smile, as his palace^ he said to his sister, 
*' I have just officiated pontifically " 

Since the most sublime things are often those which are the 
least understood, there were people in the town who said, when 
commenting on this conduct of the Bishop, ''^ It is affecta^ 

This, however, was a remark which was confined to the 
« rawing-rooms. The populace, wliich perceives '^o jest in holy 
deeds, was touched, and admired him. 


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As for the Bishop, it was a shock to him to have beheld the 
guillotine, and it was a long time before he recovered from it. 

In fact, when the scaffold is there, all erected and prepared, 
it has something about it which produces hallucination. One 
may feel a certain indifference to the death penalty, one may 
refrain from pronouncing upon it, from saying yes or no, so 
long as one has not seen a guillotine with one's own eyes : but 
if one encounters one of them, the shock is violent; one is 
forced to decide, and to take part for or against. Some admire 
it, like de Maistre ; others execrate^ it, like Beccaria. The 
guillotine is the concretion of the law; it is called vindicte; 
it is not neutral, and it does not permit you to remain neutral. 
He who sees it shivers with the most mysterious of shivers. 
All social problems erect their interrogation point around this 
chopping-knife. The scaffold is a vision. The scaffold is not 
a piece of carpentry ; the scaffold is not a machine ; the scaf- 
fold is not an inert bit of mechanism constructed of wood, 
iron, and cords. 

It seems as though it were a being, possessed of I know not 
what sombre initiative ; one would say that this piece of carpen- 
ter's work saw, that this machine heard, that this mechanism 
understood, that this wood, this iron, and these cords were 
possessed of will. In the frightful meditation into which its 
presence casts the soul the scaffold appears in terrible guise, 
and as though taking part in what is going on. The scaffold is 
the accomplice of the executioner ; it devours, it eats flesh, it 
drinks blood ; the scaffold is a sort of monster fabricated by 
the judge and the carpenter, a spectre which seems to live 
with a horrible vitalitj' composed of all the death which it has 

Therefore, the impression was terrible and profound ; on the 
day following the execution, and on many succeeding days, the 
Bishop appeared to be crushed. The almost violent serenity of 
the funereal moment had disappeared ; the phantom of social 
iustice tormented him. He, who generally returned from all 
fais deeds with a radiant satisfaction, seemed to be reproaching 
himself. At times he talked to himself, and stammered lugu- 
brious monolc^ues in a low voice. This is one which his sister 
overheard one evening and preserved: "I did not think that 
it was so monstrous. It is wrong to become absorbed in the 
divine law to such a degree as not to perceive human law. 
Death belongs to God alone. By what right do men touch that 
unknown thing ? " 

In course of time these impressions weakened and probably 


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vanished. Nevertheless, it was observed that the Bbbo;. 
tlienceforth avoided passing the place of execution. 

M. Myriel could be summoned at any hour to the bedside of 
the sick and dying. He did not ignore the fact that therein 
lay his greatest duty and his greatest labor. Widowed and 
orphaned families had no need to summon him ; he came of his 
own accord. He understood how to sit down and hold his 
peace for long hours beside the man who had lost the wife of 
his love, of tlie mother who had lost her child. As he knew the 
moment for silence, he kyew also the moment for speech. Oh, 
admirable consoler ! He sought not to efface sorrow by forget- 
fulness, but to magnify and dignify it by hope. He said : — 

'' Have a care of the manner in which you turn towards the 
dead. Think not of that which perishes. Gaze steadil}'. You 
will perceive the living light of your well-beloved dead in the 
depths of heaven." He knew that faith is wholesome. He 
sought to counsel and calm the despairing man, by pointing out 
to him the resigned man, and to transform the grief which gazes 
upon a grave by showing him the grief which fixes its gaze 
upon a star. 

V. — Monseigneur Bienvenu made his Cassocks last too 


The private life of M. Myriel was filled with the same 
thoughts as his public life. The voluntary poverty in which 
the Bishop of D. lived, would have been a solemn and charm- 
ing sight for any one who could have viewed it close at 

Like all old men, and like the majority of thinkers, he slept 
little. This brief slumber was profound. In the morning he 
meditated for an hour, then he said his mass, either at the cathe- 
dral or in his own house. His mass said, he broke his fast on 
rye bread dii)ped in the milk of his own cows. Then he set to 

A Bishop is a very busy man : he must every day receive the 
secretary of the bisliopric, who is generally a canon, and nearly 
eveiT day his vicars-general. He has congregations to reprove, 
privileges to grant, a whole ecclesiastical library to examine, 
•—prayer-books, diocesan catechisms, books of hours, etc., — 
charges to write, sermons to authorize, curés and mayors to 
reconcile, a clerical correspondence, an administrative corre- 
spondence ; on one side the State, on the other the Holy See; 
and a thousand matters of business. 


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What time was left to him, after these thousand details 
cf basiness, and iiis ofBces and his breviary, he bestowed first 
on the necessitous, the sick, and the aiflicted ; the time which 
was left to him from the afflicted, the sick, and the necessitous, 
he devoted to work. Sometimes he dug in his garden ; again, he 
read or wrote. He had but one word for both these kinds of 
toil; he called them gardening, ^'The mind is a garden," 
said he. 

Towards mid-day, when the weather was fine, he went forth 
and took a stroll in the country or in town, often entering lowly 
dwellings. He was seen walking alone, buried in his own 
thoughts, his eyes cast down, supporting himself on his long 
cane, clad in his wadded purple garment of silk, which was very 
warm, wearing purple stockings inside his coarse shoes, and 
surmounted by a flat hat which allowed three golden tassels of 
lai^e bullion to droop from its three points. 

It was a perfect festival wherever he appeared. One would 
have said that his presence had something warming and lumi- 
nous about it. The children and the old people came out to 
the doorsteps for the Bishop as for the sun. He bestowed his 
blessing, and they blessed him. They pointed out his house 
to any one who was in need of anything. 

Here and there he halted, accosted the little boys and girls, 
and smiled upon the mothers. He visited the poor so long as 
he had any money ; when he no longer had any, he visited the 

As he made his cassocks last a long while, and did not wish 
to have it noticed, he never went out in the town without his 
wadded purple cloak. This inconvenienced him somewhat in 

On his return, he dined. The dinner resembled his break- 

At half-past eight in the evening he supped with his sister, 
Madamti Magloire standing behind them and serving them at 
table. Nothing could be more frugal than this repast. If, 
however, the Bishop had one of his cures to supper, Madame 
Magloire took advantage of the opportunity to serve Monseig- 
neur with some excellent fish from the lake, or with some fine 
game from the mountains. Every curé furnished the pretext 
for a good meal : the Bishop did not interfere. With that ex- 
ception, his ordinary diet consisted only of vegetables boiled in 
water, and oil soup. Thus it was said in the town, When the 
BUhop does not indulge in the cheer of a curé, he indulges in the 
iheer of a trappist. 


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After supper he conversed for half an hour with Mademounllê 
Baptistine and Madame Magloire ; then he retired to his own 
room and set to writing, sometimes on loose sheets, and again 
on the margin of some folio. He was a man of lettere and rather 
learned. He left behind him five or six very curious manU'^ 
scripts ; among otht^rs, a dissertation on this verse in Genesis, 
In the beginning^ the spirit of God floated upon the waters. With 
this verse he compares three texts : the Arabic verse which 
sa3's, Hie winds of God blew; Flavius Josephus, who says, 
A wind from above teas precipitated upo7i the earth; and finally, 
the Chaldaic paraphrase of Onkelos, which renders it, A wind 
corning from God blew iqyon the face of the waters. In another 
dissertation, he examines the theohogical works of Hugo, Bishop 
of Ptolcmaïs, great-grand-uncle to the writer of this book, and 
he establishes the fact, that to this bishop must be attributed 
tiie divers little works published during the last century, under 
the pseudonym of Barleycourt. 

Sometimes, iu the midst of his reading, no matter what the 
book might be which he had in his hand, he would suddenly 
fall into a profound meditation, whence he only emerged to 
write a few lines on the pages of the volume itself. These lines 
have often no connection whatever with the book which con- 
tains them. We now have under our eyes a note written by him 
on the margin of a quarto entitled. Correspondence of Lord 
Germain with Generals Clinton^ ComwaUis^ and the Admirais 
on the American station. Versailles^ Poinçot^ bookseller; and 
Paris, Pissot^ bookseller, Quai des Augustins, 

Here is the note : — 

" Oh, 30U who are ! 

" Ecclesiastes calls you the All-powerful ; the Maccabees call 
you the Creator ; the Epistle to the Ei)he8ians calls you Liberty ; 
Baruch calls you Immensity ; the Psalms call you Wisdom and 
Truth ; John calls you Light ; the Books of Kings call you Lord ; 
EYodus calls you Providence ; Leviticus, Sanctitj* ; Ksdras, Jus- 
tice ; the creation calls you God ; tjan calls you Father ; but 
Solomon calls you Compassion, and that is the mo«t beautiful 
of all your names." 

Toward nine o'clock in the evening the two women retired 
and betook themselves to their chambers on the first floor, leav- 
ing him alone until morning on the ground floor. 

It is necessary that we should, in this place, give an exact 
Idea of the dwelling: of the Bishop of D. 


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VI. — Who guarded his Rouse for his. 

Tbe house in which he lived consisted, as we have said, of 
a ground floor, and one story above; three rooms on the 
ground floor, three chambers oq the first, and an attic above. 
Behind the house was a garden, a quarter* of an acre in ex- 
tent. The two women occupied the first floor ; the Bishop was 
lodged below. The first room, opening on the street, served 
him as dining-room, the second was his bedroom, and ih% third 
his oratory. There was no exit possible from this oratory, ex- 
cept by passing through the bedroom, nor from the bedroom, 
without passing through the dining-room. At the end of the 
suite, in the oratory, there was a detached alcove with a bed, 
for use in cases of hospitality. The Bishop offered this bed to 
country curates whom business or the requirements of their 
parishes brought to D. 

The pharmacy of the hospital, a small building which had 
been added to the house, and abutted on the garden, had been 
transformed into a kitchen and cellar. In addition to this, 
there was in the gai'den a stable, which had formerk been the 
kitchen of the hospital, and in which the Bishop kept two cows. 
No matter what the quantity of milk they gave, he invariably 
sent half of it every morning to the sick people in the hospital. 
^^ I am paying my tithes^" he said. 

His bedroom was tolerably lai^e, and rather difiScult to warm 
in bad weather. As wood is extremely dear at D., he hit upon 
tbe idea of having a compartment of boards constructed in the 
oow-shed. Here he passed his evenings during seasons of severe 
cold : he called it his winter salon. 

In this winter salon, as in the dining-room, there was no 
other furniture than a square table in white wood, and four 
straw-seated chairs. In addition to this the dining-room was 
ornamented with an antique sideboard painted pink, in water- 
3olors. Out of a similar sideboard, properly draped with white 
napery and imitation lace, the Bishop had constructed the altar 
which decorated his oratory. 

His wealthy penitents and the sainted women of D. had more 
than once assessed themselves to raise the money for a new 
altar for Monseigncur's oratory ; on each occasion lie had taken 
the money and had given it to the poor. '' The most beautiful 
of altars," he said, ^^ is the soul of an unhappy creature cou< 
soled and thanking God." 

In his oratory there were two straw prie-Dieu, and there was 
an arm-chair, also in straw, in his bedroom» When, by chance, 


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he received seven or eight persons at one time, the prefect, ot 
ihe general, or the staflf of the regiment in garrison, or several 
pupils from the little seminary, the cliairs had to be fetched 
from the winter salon in the stable, the prie-Dieii from the ora- 
tory, and the arm-chair from the bedroom : in this way as many 
as eleven chairs could be collected for the visitors. A room 
was dismantled for each new guest. 

It sometimes happened that there were twelve in the party ; 
the Bishop then relieved the embarrassment of the situation b\* 
standing in front of the chimney if it was winter, or by strolling 
in the garden if it was summer. 

There was still another chair in the detached alcove, but the 
straw was half gone from it, and it had but three legs, so that 
it was of service only when propped against the wall. Madem- 
oiselle Baptistine had also in her own room a very large easy- 
chair of wood, which had formerl}' been gilded, and which was 
covered with flowered pekin ; but thej^ had been obliged to 
hoist this bergère up to the first story through the window, as 
the staircase was too narrow ; it could not, tlierefore, be reck- 
oned among the possibilities in the way of furniture. 

Mademoiselle Baptistine's ambition had been to be able to 
purchase a set of drawing-room furniture in yellow Utrecht vel- 
vet, stamped with a rose pattern, and with mahogany in swan's- 
neck style, with a sofa. But this would have cost five hundred 
francs at least, and in view of the fact that she had only been 
able to lay by forty-two francs and ten sous for this purpose 
in the course of five years, she had ended by renouncing the 
idea. However, who is there who has attained his ideal? 

Nothing is more easy to present to the imagination than the 
Bishop's bedchamber. A glazed door opened on the garden ; 
opposite this was the bed, — a hospital bed of iron, witli a can- 
opy of gi-een serge ; in the shadow of the bed, behind a curtain, 
were the utensils of the toilet, which still betrayed the elegant 
habits of the man of the world : there were two doors, one 
near the chimney, opening into the oratory ; the other near the 
bookcase, opening into the dining-room. The bookcase was a 
large cupboard with glass doors filled with books ; the chimnc}- 
was of wood painted to represent marble, and habitually with- 
out fire. In the chimney stood a pair of firedogs of iron, orna- 
mented above with two garlanded vases, and fiutings which had 
formerly been silvered with silver leaf, whicli was a sort of 
episcopal luxury ; above the chimney-piece hung a crucifix of 
copper, with the silver worn off, fixed on a background of thread- 
bare black velvet in a wooden frame from which the gilding ha^ 


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fallen ^ near the glass door a large table with an inkstand, loaded 
with a confusion of papers and witli huge volumes ; before the 
table an arm-chair of straw ; in front of the bed a prie-Dieu, 
borrowed from the oratory. 

Two }x>rtrait8 in oval frames were fastened to the wall on 
each side of the bed. Small gilt inscriptions on the plain sur- 
face of the cloth at the side of these figures indicated that 
the portraits represented, one the Abbé of Chaliot, bisiiop 
of Saint-Claude ; the other, the Abbé Tourteau, vicar-general 
of Agde, abbé of Grand-Champ, order of Cîteaux, diocese of 
Chartres. When the Bishop succeeded to this apartment, after 
the hospital patients, he had found these portraits there, and 
had left them. They were priests, and probabl}' donors — two 
reasons for respecting them. All that he knew about these two 
persons was, that they had been appointed by the king, the one 
to his bishopric, the other to his benefice, on the same daj-, the 
27th of April, 1785. Madame Magloire having taken the pic- 
tures down to dust, the Bishop had discovered these particulars 
written in whitish ink on a little square of paper, yellowed by 
time, and attached to the back of the portrait of the Abbé of 
Grand-Champ with four wafers. 

At his window he had an antique curtain of a coarse woollen 
stuff, which finally became so old, that, in order to avoid the 
expense of a new one, Madame Magloire was forced to take a 
lai^e seam in the very middle of it. This seam took the form 
of a cross. The Bishop often called attention to it: " How 
delightful that is ! '' he said. 

All the rooms in the house, without exception, those on the 
ground floor as well as those on the first floor, were white- 
washed, which is a fashion in barracks and hospitals. 

However, in their latter years, Madame Magloire discovered 
beneath the paper which had been washed over, paintings orna- 
menting the apartment of Mademoiselle Baptistine, as we shall 
Bee further on. Before becoming a hospital, this house had 
been the ancient parliament house of the Bourgeois. Hence 
this decoration. The chambers were paved in red bricks, which 
were washed every week, with straw mats in front of all the 
beds. Altogether, this dwelling, which was attended to by the 
two women, was exquisitely clean from top to bottom. Thi» 
was the sole luxury which the Bishop permitted. He said, 
" That takes notMvg from the poor.'' 

Ft must be confessed, however, that he still retained fVorn his 
former possessions six silver knives and forks and a soup- 
ladle, which Madame Magloire contemplated every day with 


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delight, as they glistened splendidly upon the coarse linei^ cloth* 
And since we are now painting the Bishop of D. as he was in 
reality, we must add that he had said more than once, ^^ I find 
it difficult to renounce eating from silver dishes.*' 

To this silverware must be added two large candlesticks of 
massive silver, which he had inherited from a great-aunt- 
These candlesticks held two wax candles, and usually figured 
on the Bishop's chimney-piece. When he had any one to din- 
ner, Madame Magloire lighted the two candles and set the 
candlesticks on the table. 

In the Bishop's own chamber, at the head of his bed, there, 
was a small cupboard, in which Madame Magloire locked up 
the six silver knives and forks, and the big s[K)on every night. 
But it is necessary to add, tliat the key was never removed. 

The garden, which had been rather spoiled by the ugly build- 
mgs which we have mentioned, was composed of four alleys in 
cross-form, radiating from a tank. Another walk made the 
circuit of the garden, and skirted the white wall which enclosed 
it. These alleys left behind them four square plots rimmed 
with box. In three of these Madame Magloire cultivated 
vegetables ; in the fourth, the Bishop had planted some flowers ; 
here and there stood a few fruit-trees. Madame Magloire had 
once remarked, with a sort of gentle malice : " Monseigneur, 
you who turn everything to account have, nevertheless, one use- 
less plot. It would be better to grow salads there than bou- 
quets." ''Madame Magloire," retorted the Bishop, "you ai*6 
mistaken. The beautiful is as useful as the useful." He 
added after a pause, *' More so, perhaps." 

This plot, consisting of three or four beds, occupied the 
Bishop almost as much as did his books. He liked to pass an 
hour or two there, trimming, hoeing, and making holes here 
and there in the earth, into which he dropped seeds. He waa 
not as hostile to insects as a gardener could have wished to 
see him. Moreover, he made no pretensions to botany ; he 
ignored groups and consistency ; he made not the slightest 
effort to decide between Tournefort and the natural method ; he 
took part neither with the buds against the cotyledons, nor with 
Jussieu agamst Linnaeus. He did not study plants ; he loved 
flowers. . He respected learned men greatly ; he respected the 
ignorant still more; and, without ever failing in these two 
respects, he watered his flower-beds every summer evening with 
a tin watering-pot painted green. 

The house bad not a single door which could be locked. The 
door of the dining-room, which, as we have said, opened directly 


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on the cathedral square, had formerly been ornamented with 
locks and bolts like the door of a prison. The Bisliop had had all 
this ironwork removed, and this door was never fastened, either 
by night or by day, with anything except the latch. All that the 
first passer-by had to do at any hour, was to give it a push. 
At first, the two women had been very much tried by this door 
which was never fastened, but Monsieur de D. had said to 
them, "Have bolts put on your rooms, if that will please you." 
They had ended by sharing his confidence, or by at least acting 
as though they shared it. Madame Magloire aloue had frights 
from time to time. As for the Bishop, his thought can be found 
explained, or at least indicated, in the three lines which he wrote 
on the margin of a Bible, " This is the shade of difference : the 
door of the physician should never be shut, the door of the 
priest should always be open." 

On another book, entitled Philosophy of the Medical Science^ 
he had written this other note : " Am not I a physician like 
them? I also have my patients, and then, too, I have some 
whom I call my unfortunates." 

Again he wrote : " Do not inquire the name of him who asks 
a shelter of you. The very man who is embarrassed by his 
name is the one who needs shelter." 

It chanced that a worthy curé, I know not whether it was the 
core of Coiiloubroux or the curé of Pompierry, took it into his 
head to ask him one 'day, probably at the instigation of Madame 
Magloire, whether Monsieur was sure that he was not commit- 
ting an indiscretion, to a certain extent, in leaving his door 
unfastened day and night, at the mercy of any one who should 
choose to enter, and whether, in short, he did not fear lest some 
misfortune might occur in a house so little guarded. The 
Bishop touched his shoulder, with gentle gravity, and said to him, 
" Nisi Dominxis custodierit domum^ in vanum vigilant qui ctis- 
todiuni eam^'* Unless the Lord guard the house ^ in vain do they 
watch who guard it. 

Then he spoke of something else. 

He was fond of saying, ^' There is a bravery of the priest as 
well as the bravery of a colonel of dragoons, — only," he added, 
^^ OUTS must be tranquil." 

VII. — Cravattb. 

It is here that a fact falls naturally into place, which we 
mast not omit, because it is one of the sort which show us best 
what sort of a man the Bishop of D. was. 


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After the destruction of the band of Gaspard Bè8, who baû 
infested the gorges of OUioules, one of his lieutenants, Cra- 
vatte, took refuge iu the mou u tains. He concealed himself for 
some time with his bandits, the remnant of Gaspard Bès'a 
troop, in the county of Nice ; then he made his way to Pied- 
mont, and suddenly reappeared in France, in the vicinity of 
Barcelonette. He wa8L first seen at Jauziers, then at Tuiles. 
He hid himself in the caverus of tlie Joug-de-l' Aigle, and 
thence he descended towards the hamlets and villages through 
the ravines of Ubaye and Ubayette. 

He even pushed as far as Embrun, entered the cathedral one 
night, and despoiled the sacristy. His highway robberies laid 
waste the country-side. The gendarmes were set on his track, 
but in vain. He always escaped; sometimes he resisted bj 
main force. He was a bold wretch. In the midst of all this 
terror the Bishop arrived. He was making his circuit to 
Chastelar. The mayor came to meet him, aud urged him to 
retrace his steps. Cravatte was iu |>ossessiou of the mountains 
as far as Arche, and beyond ; there was danger even with an 
escort ; it merely exposed three or four unfortunate gendarmes 
to no purpose. 

'* Therefore," said the Bishop, " 1 intend to go without 

''You do not really mean that. Monseigneur!" exclaimed 
the ma3'or. 

" I do mean it so thoroughly that I absolutely refuse any 
gendarmes, and shall set out in an hour." 

"Set out?" 

''Set out." 



" Monseigneur, you will not do that ! " 

'^ There exists, yonder in the mountains," said the Bishop 
^' a tiny community no bigger than that, which I have not seen 
for three years. They are my good fri*>,nd8, those gentle and 
honest shepherds. They own one goat out of every thirty that 
they tend. They make very pretty woollen cords of various 
colors, and they play the mountain airs on little flutes with six 
holes. They need to be told of the good God now and then. 
What would they say to a bishop who was afraid ? What would 
they say if I did not go?" 

" But tlie brigands, Monsiegneur?" 

" Hold," said the Bishop, " I must think of that. You are 
right. I raav meet them. Thev. ton,, need to be told of the 
firoodGod." " 


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<^ But, Monseigneur, there is a baud of them ! A flock of 
irolves ! " 

^^Mousieur le maire, it may be that it is of this very flock of 
ffolves that Jesus has coustituted me the shepherd. Whu 
knows the ways of Provideuce ? " 

*'They will rob 3'ou, Monseigneur." 

" I have nothing." 

"They wiU kill you." 

"An old goodman of a priest, who passes along mumbling 
his prayera ? Bah ! To what puriKJse ? ' * 

'*0h, mon Dieu ! what if you should meet them ! " 

"I should beg alms of them for my poor." 

" Do not go. Monseigneur. In the name of Heaven I You 
are risking your life ! " 

"Monsieur le maire," said the Bishop, "is that really all? 
I am not in the world to guard my own life, but to guard 

They had to allow him to do as he pleased. He set out, 
accompanied only by a child who offered to serve as a guide. 
His obstinacy was bruited about the country-side, and caused 
great consternation. 

He would take neither his sister nor Madame Magloire. He 
traversed the mountain on mule-back, encountered no one, and 
arrived safe and sound at the residence of his '*- good friends," 
the shepherds. He remained there for a fortnight,. preaching, 
administering the sacrament, teaching, exhorting. When the 
time of his departure approached, he resolved to chant a Te 
Deum pontifically. He mentioned it to the curé. But what 
was to be done? There were no episcopal ornaments. They 
could only place at his disposal a wretched village sacristy, with 
a few ancient chasubles of threadbare damask adorned with 
imitation lace. 

" Bah ! " said the Bishop. " Let us announce our Te Deum 
from the pulpit, nevertheless. Monsieur le Curé. Things will 
arrange themselves." 

They instituted a search in the churches of the neighborhood. 
AU the magnificence of these humble parishes combined would 
uot have sufficed to clothe the chorister of a cathedral properly. 

AVhile they were thus embarrassed, a large chest was brought 
and deposited in the presbytery for the Bishop, by two unknown 
borseracn, who departed on the instant. The chest was opened ; 
it contained a cope of cloth of gold, a mitre ornamented with 
diamonds, an archbishop's cross, a magnificent croëier, — all 
Uie pontifical vestments which had been stolen a month pre 


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viously from the treasury of Notre Dame d'Ëmbran. In the 
chest was a paper, on which these words were written, ^''From 
Cravatte to Monseigneur Bienvenu,^' 

^' Did not I say that things would come right of themselves?" 
said the Bishop. Then he added, with a smile, *' To him who 
contents himself with the surplice of a curate, God sends the 
cope of an archbishop." 

" Monseigneur," murmured the curé, throwing back his head 
with a smile. " God — or the Devil." 

The Bishop looked steadilv at the curé, and repeated with 
authority, "God!" 

When he returned to Chastelar, the people came out to stare 
at him as at a curiosity, all along the road. At the priest's 
house in Chastelar he rejoined Mademoiselle Baptistine and 
Miulamc Magloire, who were waiting for him, and he said to his 
sister; "Well! was I in the right? The poor priest went to 
his poor mountaineers with empty hands, and he returns from 
them with his hands full. I set out bearing only my faith in 
God ; I have brought back the treasure of a cathedral." 

That evening, before he went to bed, he said again : " Let us 
never fear robbers nor murderers. Those are dangers from with- 
out, petty dangers. Let us fear ourselves. Prejudices are the 
real robbers ; vices are the real murderers. The great dangers 
lie within ourselves. What matters it what threatens our head or 
our puree ! Let us think only of that which threatens our soul." 

Then, turning to his sister: "Sister, never a precaution on 
the part of the priest, against his fellow-man. That which his 
fellow does, God permits. Let us confine ourselves to prayer, 
when we think that a danger is approaching us. Let us pray, 
not for ourselves, but that our brother may not fall into sin on 
our account." 

However, such incidents were rare in his life. We relate those 
of which we know ; but generally he passed his life in doing the 
same things at the same moment. One month of his year 
resembled one hour of his day. 

As to what became of " the treasure " of the cathedral of Em- 
brun, we should be embarrassed by any inquiry in that direction. 
It consisted of very handsome things, very tempting things, and 
things which were very well adapted to be stolen for the benefit 
of the unfortunate. Stolen they had already been elsewhere. 
Half of the adventure was completed ; it onl}' remained to impart 
a new direction to the theft, and to cause it to take a short trip 
in the direction of the poor. However, we make no assertions 
on this point. Only, a rather obscure note was found among 


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FA NT I NE. 27 

••he Bishop's papers, which may bear some relation to this mat- 
ter, and which is couched in these terms, '''Jlie question is, la 
decide whether this should be turned over to the cathedral on 
to the hospitcU." 

VIII. — Philosophy after Drinking. 

The senator above mentioned was a clever man, who had 
made his own way, heedless of tiiose things which present obsta- 
cles, and which are called conscience, sworn faith, justice, duly : 
he had marched straight to bis goal, without once flinching in the 
Une of his advancement and his intere3t. He was an old attor- 
ney, softened by success ; not a bad man by any means, who ren- 
dered all the small services in his ix)wer to his sons, his sons-in- 
law, his relations, and even to his friends, having wi^^ely seized 
upon, in life, good sides, good opportunities, good windfalls. 
Everything else seemed to him very stupid. Ho was intelligent, 
and just sntlicieutly educated to think himself a disciple of 
Epicurus ; while he was, in reality, only a .product of Pigault- 
Lebrun. He laughed willingly and pleasantly over infinite and 
eternal things, and at the '' crotchets of tliat good old fellow the 
Bishop." He even sometimes laughed at him with an amiable 
authority in the presence of M. Myriel himself, who listened to 

On some semi-official occasion or other, I do not recollect 
what. Count ***, [this senator], and M. Myriel were to dine with 
the prefect. At dessert, the senator, who was slightly exhila- 
rated, though still perfectly dignified, exclaimed : — 

" Egad, Bishop, let's have a discussion. It is hard for a 
senator and a bishop to look at each other without winking. 
We are two augurs. I am going to make a confession to you. 
I have a philosophy of my own." 

'' And you are right," replied the Bishop. " As one makes 
one's philosophy, so one lies on it. You are on the bed of pur 
pie, Senator." 

The senator was encouraged, and went on : — 

'' Let us be good fellows." 

" Good devils even," said the Bishop. 

" I declare to you," continued the senator, " that the Mar(}ui& 
d'Argens, Pyrrhon, Hobbes, and M. Naigeon are no rascals. I 
have all the philosophers in my library gilded on the edges." 

'' Like yourself. Count," interposed the Bishop. 

The senator resumed : — 

" I hate Diderot ; he is an ideologist, a declaimer, atia a revo- 
tntiovUt- a bviiever In God at bottom, and more bigoted than 


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Voltaire. Voltaire made sport of Needham, and he was wrong 
for Needham's eels prove that God is useless. A drop of vine 
gar in a spoonful of flour paste supplies the fiat lux. Suppose 
the drop to be larger and the spoonful bigger ; you have the 
world. Man is the eel. Then what is the good of the Eternal 
Father ? The Jehovah hypothesis tires me, Bishop. It is good 
for nothing but to produce shallow people, whose reasoning 
is hollow. Down with that great All, which torments me! 
Hurrah for Zero which leaves me in peace! Between you 
and me, and in order to empty my sack, and make confes- 
sion to my pastor, as it behooves me to do, I will admit to 
you that I have good sense. I am not enthusiastic over your 
Jesus, who preaches renunciation and sacrifice to the last ex- 
tremity. 'Tis the counsel of an avaricious man to beggars. 
Renunciation; why? Sacrifice; to what end? I do not sec 
one wolf immolating himself for the happiness of another wolf. 
Let us stick to nature, then. We are at thq top ; let us have « 
superior philosophy. What is the advantage of being at the 
top, if one sees no further than the end of other people's noses? 
Let us live merrily. Life is all. That man has another future 
elsewhere, on high, below, anywhere, I don't believe ; not one 
single word of it. Ah ! sacrifice and renunciation are recom- 
mended to me ; I must take heed to everything I do ; I must 
cudgel my brains over good and evil, over the just and the un- 
just, over the fus and the nefas. Why ? Because I shall have 
to render an account of my actions. When? After death. 
What a fine dream ! After my death it will be a vei^ clever 
person who cad catch me. Have a handful of dust seized hy a 
shadow-hand, if you can. Let us tell the truth, we who are 
initiated, and who have raised the veil of Isis : there is no such 
thing as either good or evil ; there is vegetation. Let us seek 
the real. Let us get to the bottom of It. Let us go into it 
thoroughly. What the deuce ! let us go to the bottom of It ! 
We must scent out the truth ; dig in the earth for it, and s ize 
it. Then it gives you exquisite joys. Thon you grow strong, 
and you laugh. I am square on the bottom, I am. Immortality, 
Bishop, is a chance, a waiting for dead men's shoes. Ah ! what 
a charming promise ! trust to it, if you like ! Wliat a fine lot 
Adam has ! We are souls, and we shall be angels, with blue wings 
on our shoulder-blades. Do come to my assistance : is it not 
Tertullian who says that the blessed shall travel from star to 
star? Very well. We shall be the grasshoppers of the stars. 
And then, besides, we shall see God. Ta, ta, ta ! What twad- 
dle all tliese paradises are ! God is a nonsensical monster. ) 


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FA NT I NE. 29 

would not say that in the Moniteur^ egad I bat I may whisper vt 
among friends. liUer pocula. To sacrifice the world to para- 
dise is to let slip the prey for the shadow. Be the dupe of the 
infinite ! I'm not such a fool. I am a nought. I call myself 
Monsieur le Comte Nouglit, senator. Did I exist before my 
birth? No. Shall I exist after my death? No. What am 
I? A little dust collected in an oi^anisra. What am I to 
do on this earth ? The choice rests with me : suffer or 
enjoy. Whither will suffering lead me? To nothingness; 
but I shall hare suffered. Whither will enjoyment lead me? 
To nothingness ; but I shall have enjoyed myself. M5* choice 
is made. One must eat or be eaten. I shall eat. It is better 
to be the tooth than the grass. Such is my wisdom. After 
which, go whither I push thee, the grave-digger is there ; the 
Pantheon for some of us : all falls into the great hole. End. 
Finis, Total liquidation. This is the vanishing-point. Death 
is death, believe me. I laugh at the idea of there being any one 
who has anything to tell me on that subject. Fables of nurses ; 
bagaboo for children ; Jehovah for men. No ; our to-morrow 
is the night. Beyond the tomb there is nothing but equal noth- 
ingness. You have been Sardanapalus, you have been Vincent 
de Paul — it makes no difference. That is the truth. Then live 
your life, above all things. Make use of your / while you 
have it. In truth, Bishop, I tell you that I have a philosophy 
of my own, and I have my philosophers. I don't let myself be 
taken in with that nonsense. Of course, there must be some- 
thing for those who are down, — for the baref(X)ted beggars, 
knife-grinders, and miserable wretches. Legends, chimeras, tlie 
soul, immortality, paradise, the stars, ar* provided for them to 
swallow. They gobble it down. They spread it on their dry bread. 
He who has nothing else has the good God. That is the least he 
can have. I oppose no objection to that ; but I reserve Monsieur 
Naigeon for myself. The good God is good for the populace." 

The Bishop clapped his hands. 

" That's talking ! " he exclaimed. '* What an excellent and 
really marvellous thing is this materialism ! Not every one 
who wants it can have it. Ah ! when one does have it, one is 
no longer a dupe, one does not stupidly allow one's self to be 
exiled like Cato, nor stoned like Stephen, nor burned alive like 
Jeanne d'Arc. Those who have succeeded in procuring this 
admirable materialism have the joy of feeling themselves irre- 
sponsible, and of thinking that they can devour everything 
without uneasiness, — places, sinecures, dignities, power, whether 
well or ill acquired^ lucrative recantations, useful treacheries, 


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savory capitulations of conscience, — and that they shall enter 
the tomb with their digestion accomplished. Ilow agreeable 
that is ! I do not say that with reference to you, Senator. 
Nevertheless, it is impossible for me to refrain from congratu- 
lating you. You great lords have, so you say, a philosophy of 
your own, and for yourselves, which is exquisite, refined, acces- 
sible to the rich alone, good for all sauces, and which seasons 
the voluptuousness of life admirably. This philosophy has 
been extracted from the depths, and unearthed by special 
seekers. But you are good-natured princes, and you do not 
think it a bad thing that belief in the good God should consti- 
tute the philosophy of the people, very much as the goose 
stuffed with chestnuts is the truffled turkey of the poor." 

IX. — The Brother as depicted by the Sister. 

In order to furnish an idea of the private establishment of 
the Bishop of D., and of tlie manner in which those two sainted 
women subordinated their actions, their thoughts, their feminine 
instincts even, which are easily alarmed, to the habits and pur- 
poses of the Bishop, without his even taking the trouble of 
speaking in order to explain «them, we cannot do better than 
transcribe in this place a letter from Mademoiselle Bai)tistine to 
Madame the Vicomtesse de Boischevron, the friend of her 
childhood. This letter is in our possession. 

D., Dec. 16, 18—, 
My Good Madam : Not a day passes without our speaking of you. It 
is our established custom; but there is another reason besides. Just im- 
agine, wliile washing and dusting the ceilings and walls. Madam Magloire 
has made some discoveries; now our two cliambers hung w^ith antique 
paper whitewaslied over, would not discredit a chateau in the 'style oi 
yours. Madam Magloire has pulled off ail the paper. There were thingc 
beneath. My drawing-room, which contains no furniture, and which \\v 
use for spreading out the linen after washing, is fifteen feet in height, 
eighteen square, with a ceiling which was formerly painted and gilded, 
and with beams, as in yours. This was covered with a cloth while this was 
the hospital. And the woodwork was of the era of our grandmothers. 
But my room is the one you ought to see. Madam Magloire has discov- 
ered, under at least ten thicknesses of paper pasted on top, some paintings 
which without being good are very tolerable. The subject is Telemachus 
being knighted by Minerva in some gardens, the name of which escapes 
me. In short, where the lioman ladies repaired on one single night. What 
shall I say to you? I have Romans, and Roman ladies [here occurs an 
illegible word], and the whole train. Madam Magloire has cleaned it all 
off; this summer she is going to have some small injuries repaired, and 
the whole revamished, and my chamber will be a regular museum. She 
has also found in a corner of the attic two wooden pier-tables of ancient 
tashion. They asked us two crowns of six francs each to regiid them, but 


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it is mnch better to give the money to the poor ; and they are very ngly 
besides, and I should much prefer a round table of mahogany. 

I am always very happy. My brother is so good. He gives all he has 
to the poor and sick. We are very much cramped. The country is trying 
in the winter, and we really must do something for those who are in need. 
We are almost comfortably lighted and warmed. You see that these are 
great treats. 

My brother has ways of his own. When he talks, he says that a biahop 
ought to be so. Just imagine! the door of our house is never fastened. 
Whoever chooses to enter finds himself at once in my brother's room. lie 
fears nothing, even at night. That is his sort of bravery, he says. 

He does not wish me or Madame Magloire feel any fear for him. He 
exposes himself to all sorta of dangers, and he does not like to have us 
even seem to notice it. One must know how to understand him. 

He goes out in the rain, he walks in the water, he travels in winter. He 
fears neither suspicious roads nor dangerous encounters, nor night. 

Last year he went quite alone into a country of robbers. He would not 
take us. He was absent for a fortnight. On his return nothing had 
happened to him ; he was thought to be dead, but was perfectly well, and 
said, " This is the way 1 have been robbed ! " And then he opened a trunk 
full of jewels, all the jewels of the cathedral of Embrun, wliich the thieves 
had given him. 

When he returned on that occasion, I could not refrain from scolding 
him a little, taking care, however, not t^ speak except when the carriage 
was making a noise, so that no one might hear me. 

At first I used to say to myself, "There are no dangers which will stop 
him; he is terrible." Now I have ended by getting used to it. I make a 
sign to Madam Magloire that she is not to oppose him. He risks himself 
as he sees fit. I carry off Madam Magloire, I enter my chamber, I pray for 
him and fall asleep. I am at ease, because I know that if anything were 
to happen to him, it would be the end of me. I should go to the good God 
with my brother and my bishop. It has cost Madam Magloire more 
trouble than it did me to accustom herself to what she terms his impru- 
dences. But now the habit has been acquired. We pray together, we 
tremble together, and we fall asleep. If the devil were to enter this 
house, he would be allowed to do so. After all, what is there for us to 
fear in this house ? There is always some one with us who is stronger 
than we. The devil may pass through it, but the good God dwells here. 

This sufiftces me. My brother has no longer any need of saying a 
word to me. I understand him without his speaking, and we abandon 
ourselves to the care of Providence. That is the way one has to do with 
a man who possesses grandeur of soul. 

I have interrogated my brother with regard to the information which 
you desire on the subject of the Faux family. You are aware that he 
knows everything, and that he has memories, because he is still a very 
good royalist. They rt»ally are a very ancient Norman family of the 
generalship of Caen. Five hundred years ago there was a Raoul de Faux, 
a Jean de Faux, and a Thomas de Faux, wlio w^ere gentlemen, and one of 
whom was a seigneur de Rochefort, The last was Guy-Etienne- Alexandre, 
and was commander of a regiment, and something in the light horse of 
Bretagne. His daughter, Marie-Louise, married Adrien-Charles de Gra- 
niont, son of the Duke Louis de Gramont, peer of France, colonel of tht 
French guards, and lieutenant-general of the army. It is written Faux. 
Pauq, and Faoucq. 


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Good Madame, recommend us to the prayers of jour sainted relatire^ 
Monsieur the Cardinal. As for your dear Sylvanie, she has done well in 
not wasting the few moments which she passes with you in writing to me. 
She is well, works as you would wish, and loves me. That is all that I 
desire. The souvenir whicli she sent through you reached me safely, 
and it makes me very happy. My health is not so very bad, and yet I 
grow thinner every day. Farewell ; my paper is at an end, and this forces 
me to leave you. A thousand good wishes. 


P.S. Your grandnephew is charming. Do you know that he will soon 
be five years old 1 Yesterday he saw some one riding by on horseback 
who had on knee-caps, and he said, " What has he got on his knees 1 ** 
He is a cliarming child ! His little brother is dragging an old broom about 
the room, like a carriage, and saying, " Uu ! " 

A» will be perceived from this letter, these two women under- 
stood how to mould themselves to the Bishop's ways with that 
special feminine genius which comprehends the man better than 
he comprehends himself. The Bishop of D., in spite of the 
gentle and candid air which never deserted him, sometimes did 
things that were grand, bold, and magnificent, without seeming 
to have even a suspicion of the fact. They trembled, but they 
let him alone. Sometimes Madame Magloire essayed a remon- 
strance in advance, but never at the time, nor afterwards. 
They never interfered with him by so much as a word or a sign, 
in any action once entered upon. At certain moments, without 
his hiving occasion to mention it, when he was not even con- 
scious of it himself in all probability, so perfect was his sim- 
plicity, they vaguely felt that he was acting as a bishop ; then 
they were nothing more than two shadows in the house. They 
served him passively ; and if obedience consisted in disapj^ear- 
ing, they disappeared. They understood, with an admirable 
delicacy of instinct, that certain cares may be put under con- 
straint. Thus, even when believing him to be in peril, they 
understood, I will not say his thought, but his nature, to such a 
degree that they no longer watched over him. They confided 
him to God. 

Moreover, Baptistine said, as we have just read, that hei 
brother's end would prove her own. Madame Magloire did no| 
eay this, but she knew it. 

X. — The Bishop in the Presence op an Unknown 

At an eix>ch a little later than the date of the letter cited ii 
^,he preceding pages, he did a thing which, if the whole town 
was to be believed, was even more hazardous than his trip 
across the mountains infested with bauditA. 


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In the oonntry near D. a man lived qaite alone. This man^ 
«e will state at once, was a former member of the Convention. 
Uis name was G. 

Member of the Convention, G. was mentioned with a sort of 
horror in the little world of D. A member of the Convention — 
can you ims^ne such a thing? That existed from the time 
when people called each other thou^ and when they said ^^ citi- 
zen." This man was almost a monster. He had not voted for 
the death of the king, but almost. He was a quasi-regicide. 
Ho bad been a terrible man. How did it happen that such a 
man had not been bix>ught before a provost's court, on the 
return of the legitimate princes? They need not have cut off 
bis head, if you please ; clemency must be exercised, agieed ; 
but a good banishment for life. An example, in short, etc. 
Besides, he was an atheist, like all the rest of those people. 
Gossip of the geese about the vulture. 

Was G. a vulture after all ? Yes ; if he were to be judged 
by the element of ferocity in this solitude of his. As he had 
not voted for the death of the king, he had not been included 
in the decrees of exile, and had been able to remain in France. 

He dwelt at a distance of three-quarters of an hour from the 
city, far from any hamlet, far from any road, in some hidden 
turn of a very wild valley, no one knew exactly where. He had 
there, it was said, a sort of field, a hole, a lair. There were 
no neighbors, not even passers-by. Since he had dwelt in that 
valley, the path whicli led thither had disappeared under a 
growth of grass. The localitj* was spoken of as though it had 
been the dwelling of a hangman. 

Nevertheless, the Bishop meditated on the subject, and from 
time to time he gazed at the horizon at a point where a clump 
of trees marked the valley of the former member of the Conven- 
tion, and he said, " There is a soul yonder which is lonely." 

And he added, deep in his own mind, " I owe him a visit." 

But, let us avow it, this idea, which seemed natural at the 
first blush, appeared to him after a moment's reflection, as 
strange, impossible, and almost repulsive. For, at bottom, he 
shared the general impression, and the old member of the Con- 
vention inspired him, without his being clearly conscious of the 
fact himself, with that sentiment which borders on hate, and 
which is so well expressed by the word estrangement. 

Still, should tlie scab of the sheep cause the shepherd to recoil' 
No. But what a sheep ! 

The good Bishop was |)erplexed. Sometimes he set out in 
that direction ; then he returned. 


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Finally, the rumor one day spread through the town that a 
sort of young sliepherd, who served the member of the Convea 
tion in his iiovel, had come in quest of a doctor ; that the old 
wretch was dying, tiiat paralysis was gaining on him, and that 
he wonld not live over the night. — *' Thank (îod 1" some added. 

The Bishop took his staff, put on his cloak, on account of his 
too tlireadbare cassock, as we have mentioned, and because 
of the evening breeze which was sure to rise soon, and set 

The sun was setting, and had almost touched the horizon 
when the Bishop arrived at the excommunicated spot. With a 
certain beating of the heart, he recognized the fact that he was 
near the lair. He strode over a ditch, leai)ed a hedge, made 
his way through a fence of dead boughs, entered a neglected 
paddock, took a few steps with a good deal of boldness, and 
suddenly, at the extremity of the waste land, and behind loflj' 
brambles, he caught sight of the cavern. 

It was a very low hut, poor, small, and clean, with a vine 
nailed against the outside. 

Near the door, in an old wheel-chair, the arm-chair of the 
peasants, there was a white-haired man, smiling at the sun. 

Near the seated man stood a young boy, the shepherd lad. 
He was offering the old man a jar of milk. 

Wiiile the Bishop was watching him, the old man spoke : 
** Thank you," he said, '' I need notliing." And his smile qnit- 
ted the sun to rest upon the child. 

The Bishop stepped forward. At tlie sound which he made 
in walking, the old man turned his head, and his face expressed 
the sum total of the suq)rise which a man can still feel after a 
long life. 

" This is the first time since I have been here," said he, 
• that any one has entered here. Who are you, sir? " 

The Bishop answered : — 

*' My name is Bienvenu Myriel.'* 

''Bienvenu Myriel? I have heard that name. Are you the 
man whom the people call Monseigneur Welcome?** 

'' I am." 

The old man resumed with a half -smile : — 

*' In that case, you are my bishop?" 

*' Something of that sort." 

" Enter, sir." 

The member of the Convention extended his hand to the 
Bishop, but the Bisliop did not take it. The Bishop confined 
himself to the remark : — 


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FANTn\E. as 

''lam pleased to see that I have been misinfonned. You 
oertaialy do not seem to me to be ill." 

" Monsieur," replied the old man, '' I am going to recover.'* 

He paused, and then said : — 

'' I shall die three hours hence." 

Then he continued : — 

'' I am something of a doctor ; I know in what fashion the 
last hour di-aws on. Yesterday, only my feet were cold ; to- 
day, the chill has ascended to my knees ; now I feel it mount- 
iug to my waist ; when it reaches the heart, I shall stop. The 
son is beautiful, is it not? I had myself wheeled out here to 
take a last look at things. You can talk to me ; it does not 
fatigue me. You have done well to come and look at a man 
who is on the point of death. It is well that there should be 
witnesses at that moment. One has one's caprices ; I should have 
liked to lost until the dawn, but I know that I shall hardly live 
three hours. It will be night then. What does it matter, after 
aU? Dying is a simple affair. One has no need of the light 
for that. So be it. I shall die by starlight." 

The old man turned to the shepherd lad : — 

''Go to thy bed; thou wert awake all last night; thou art 

The child entered the hut. 

The old man followed him with his eyes, and added, as though 
speaking to himself: — 

"I shall die while he sleeps. The two slumbers may be 
good neighbors." 

The Bishop was not touched as it seems that he should have 
been. He did not think he discerned God in this manner 
of dying ; let us say the whole, for these petty contradictions 
of great hearts must be indicated like the rest : he, who on oc- 
casion, was so fond of laughing at " His Grace," was rather 
shocked at not being addressed as Monseigneur, and he was 
almost tempted to retort "citizen." He was assailed by a 
fancy for peevish familiarity, common enough to doctors and 
priests, but which was not habitual with liim. This man, 
after sdl, this member of the Convention, this representative 
of the people, had been one of the powerful ones of the earth ; 
for the first time in his life, probably, tlie Bishop felt in a mood 
to be severe. 

Meanwhile, the member of the Convention had been survey- 
ing him with a modest cordiality, in which one could have dis- 
tinguished, possibly, tliat humility which is so fitting when ono 
is on the verge of returning to dust. 


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The Bishop, on his side, although he generally restrained lii« 
curiosity, which, in his opinion, bordered on a fault, could not 
refrain from examining the member of the Convention with an 
attention which, as it did not have its source in sympathy, 
would have served his conscience as a matter of reproach, in 
connection with any other man. A member of the Convention 
produced on him somewhat the effect of being outside the pale 
of the law, even , of the law of charity. G., calm, his body 
almost upright, his voice vibrating, was one of those octogena-' 
rians who form the subject of astonishment to the physiologist. 
The Revolution had many of these men, proportioned to the 
epoch. In this old man one was conscious of a man put to the 
proof. Though so near to his end, he preserved all the gestures 
of health. In his clear glance, in his firm tone, in the robust 
movement of his shoulders, there was something calculated to 
disconcert death. Azrael, the Mohammedan angel of the sepul- 
chre, would have turned back, and thought that he had mistaken 
the door. G. seemed to be dying because he willed it so. 
There was freedom in his agony. His legs alone were* motion- 
less. It was there that the shadows held him fast. His feet 
were cold and dead, but his head survived with all the power of 
life, and seemed full of light. G., at this solemn moment, re- 
sembled the king in that tale of the Orient who was flesh above 
and marble below. 

There was a stone there. The Bishop sat down. The exor- 
dium was abrupt. 

" I congratulate you," said he, in the tone which one uses for 
a reprimand. "You did not vote for the death of the king, 
after all." 

The old member of the Convention did not appear to notice 
the bitter meaning underlying the words ''after all." He replied. 
The smile had quite disappeared from his face. 

'* Do not congratulate me too much, sir. I did vote for the 
death of the tyrant.*' 

It was the tone of austerity answering the tone of severity. 

*' What do you mean to say?" resumed the Bishop. 

*' I mean tj) say that man has a tyrant, — ignorance. I voted 
for the death of that tyrant. That tyrant engendered royalty, 
which is authority falsely understood, while science is author- 
ity rightly understood. Man should be governed only by 

*' And conscience," added the Bishop. 

"It is the same thing. Conscience is the quantity of innate 
science which we have within us." 


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Monseigneur Bienvena lîâtened in some astouishment to thia 
fftDguage, which was very new to him. 

The member of the Convention resumed : — 

" So far aB Louis XVI. was concerned, I said * no/ I did 
Dot think that I had the right to kill a man ; but I felt it my 
daty to exterminate evil. I voted the end of the tyrant, that is 
to say, the end of prostitution for woman, the end of shivery 
for man, the end of night for tlie child. In voting for the Re- 
public, I voted for that. I voted for fraternity, concord, the 
Jawn. I have aided in the overthrow of prejudices and errors» 
The crumbling awa}' of prejudices and eri-ors causes lij;lit, 
We have caused the fall of the old world, and the old world, 
that vase of miseries, has become, through its upsetting upon 
the human race, an urn of joy." 

*' Mixed joy," said the Bishop. 

^^ You may say troubled joy, and to-day, after that fatal re* 
turn of the past, which is called 1814, joy which has disappeared 1 
Alas ! The work was incomplete, I admit : we demolished the 
ancient regime in deeds ; we were not able to suppress it entirely 
in ideas. To destroy abuses is not sufficient ; customs must be 
modified. The miU is there no longer ; the wind is still there.** 

*' You have demolished. It may be of use to demolish, but 
I distrust a demolition complicated with wrath." 

'* Right has its wrath, Bishop ; and the wrath of right is an 
element of progress. In any case, and in spite, of whatever 
may be said, the French Revolution is the most important step 
of the human race since the advent of Christ. Iucomi)lete, it 
may be, but sublime. It set free all the unknown social quan- 
tities; it softened spirits, it calmed, appeased, enlightened; it 
caused the waves of civilization to flow over the earth, it was 
a good thing. The French Revolution is the consecration of 

The Bishop could not refrain from murmuring : — 

"Yes? '93!" 

The member of the Convention straightened nimself up in his 
>hair with an almost lugubrious solemnity, and exclaimed, so 
far as a dying man is capable of exclamation : — 

" Ah, there you go ; '93 ! I was expecting that word. A cloud 
had been forming for the space of fifteen hundred years ; at the 
end of fifteen hundred years it burst. You are putting the 
thunderbolt on its trial." 

The Bishop felt, without, perhaps, confessing it, that some- 
thing witliin him had suffered extinction. Nevertheless, he put 
a g<»d face on the matter. He replied : — 

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** The judge speaks in the name of justice ; the priest speaks 
in the name of pity, which is nothing but a more lofty justice. 
A thunderbolt should commit no error." And he added, re 
garding the member of the Convention steadily the while, 
''Louis XVII.?" 

The couventiouary stretched forth his hand and grasped the 
Bishop's arm. 

'' Louis XVII. ! let us see. For whom do you mourn? is it 
for tiie innocent child ? very good; iu that case I mourn with 
you. Is it for the royal child ? I demand time for reflection. 
To me, the brother of Cartouche, an innocent child who was 
hung up by the armpits in the Place de Grève, until death 
ensued, for the sole crime of having been the brother of Car* 
touche, is no less painful than the grandson of Louis XV., an 
mnocent child, martyred in the tower of the Temple, for the sole 
crime of having been the grandson of Louis XV." 

'^ Monsieur," said the Bishop, ^'I like not this conjunctioB 
of names." 

''Cartouche? Louis XV.? To which of the two do you 

A momentary silence ensued. The Bishop almost regretted 
having come, and yet he felt vaguely and strangely shaken. 

The couventiouary resumed : — 

" Ah, Monsieur Priest, you love not the crudities of the true. 
Christ loved them. He seized a rod and cleared out the Temple. 
His scourge full of lightnings was a harsh speaker of truths. 
When he cried, ^Sinite jyaroidos,* he made no distinction between 
the little children. It would not have embarrassed him to bring 
together the Dauphin of Barabbas and the Dauphin of Herod. 
Innocence, Monsieur, is its own crown. Innocence has no 
need to be a highness. It is as august in rags as in fleurs de 

" That is true," said the Bishop in a low voice. 

" I persist," continued the couventiouary G. " You have 
mentioned Louis XVII. to me. Let us come to an undersUinil 
ing. Shall we weep for all the innocent, all martyrs, all chil- 
dren, the lowly as well as the exalted ? I agree to that. But 
in that case, as I have told you, we must go back further than 
'93, and our tears must begin before Ix>uis XVII. I will weep 
with you ov^r the children of kings, provided that you will 
weep with me over the children of the people.'* 

" I weep foi' all," said the Bishop. 

" r^qually J " oxclaimod convcntionary G, ; " and if the balance 
must inc^lino, let it be on the side of the people. They have 
been sufifering longer." 


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Another silence ensued. The conventîonary was the first to 
oreak it. He raised himself on one olhow, took a bit of his 
cheek between his thumb and his forefinger, as one does 
mechanically when one interrogates aiUl judges, and appealed 
to the Bishop with a gaze full of all the forces of the death 
agony. It was almost an explosion. 

*' Yes, sir, the people hare been suffering a long while. And 
bold ! that is not all, either ; why have you just questioned me 
and talked to me about Louis XVII. ? I know you not. Ever 
since I have been in these parts I have dwelt in this enclosure 
alone, never setting foot outside, and seeing no one but that 
child who helps me. Your name has reached me in a confused 
manner, it is true, and very badly pronounced, 1 must admit ; 
but that signifies nothing : clever men have so many ways of 
imix)sing on that honest goodman, the people. By the way, I 
did not hear the sound of your carriage ; you have left it yonder, 
behind the coppice at the fork of the roads, no doubt. I do 
not know yon, I tell you. You have told me that you are the 
Bishop ; but that affords me no information as to your moral 
personality. In short, I repeat my question. Who are you? 
You are a bishop ; that is to say, a prince of the church, one of 
those gilded men with heraldic bearings and revenues, who have 
vast prebends, — the bishopric of D. fifteen thousand francs 
settled income, ten thousand in perquisites ; total, twentj'-five 
thousand francs, — who have kitchens, who have liveries, who 
make good cheer, who eat moor-hens on Friday, who strut 
about, a lackey before, a lackey behind, in a gala coach, and 
who have palaces, and who roll in their carriages in the name 
of Jesus Christ who went barefoot ! You are a prelate, — revé- 
cues, palace, horses, servants, good table, all the sensualities 
of life; you have this like the rest, and like the rest, you 
enjoy it ; it is well, but this says either too much or too little ; 
this does not enlighten me upon the intrinsic and essential 
value of the man who comes with the probable intention of 
bringing wisdom to me. To whom do I speak ? Who are you ? *' 

The Bishop hung his head and replied, " Vermis sum — I 
am a worm." 

"A worm of the earth in a carriage?" growled the conven- 

It was the conventionary's turn to be arrogant, and the Bish- 
op's to be humble. 

The Bishop resumed ftiildly : — 

** So be it, sir. But explain to me how my carriage, which 
is a few paces off behind the trees yonder, how my good table 


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and the raoor-hens which I eat on Friday, how my twenty 
five thousand francs income, how my palace and my lackeys 
prove that clemency is not a duty, and that *93 was not inex- 

The conventionary passed his hand across his brow, as though 
to sweep away a cloud. 

" Before replying to you," he said, " I beseech you to pardon 
me. I have just committed a wrong, sir. You are at my 
house, you are ray guest, I owe 30U courtesy. You discuss my 
ideas, and it becomes me to confine myself to combating your 
arguments. Your riches and your pleasures are advantages 
which I hold over you in the debate ; but good taste dictates 
that I shall not make use of them. I promise you to make no 
use of them in the future." 

*' I thank you," said the Bishop. 

G. resumed : — 

'' Let us return to the explanation which you have asked of 
me. Where were we? What were you saying to me.»^ That 
'93 was inexorable ? " 

** Inexorable ; yes," said the Bishop. "What think you of 
Marat clapping his hands at the guillotine?" 

'' What think you of Bossuet chanting the Te Deum over the 

The retort was a harsh one, but it attained its mark with the 
dire(;tness of a point of steel. The Bishop quivered under it; 
no reply occurred to him ; but he was offended by this mode of 
alluding to Bossuet. The best of çainds will have their fetiches, 
and they sometimes feel vaguely wounded by the want of respect 
of logic. 

The conventionary began to pant ; the asthma of the agony 
which is mingled with the last breaths interrupted his voice ; 
still, there was a perfect lucidity of soul in his eyes. He went 
on: — 

' ' Let me say a few words more in this and that direction ; I 
am willing. Apart from the Revolution, whicii, taken as a whole, 
is an immense human affirmation, '93 is, alas ! a rejoinder. You 
think it inexorable, sir; but what of the whole monarchy, sir? 
Carrier is a bandit; but what name do you give to Monti*e- 
vel ? Fouquier-Tainville is a rascal ; but what is your opinion 
as to Lamoignon-Bâville ? Maillard is terrible; but Saulx- 
Tavannes, if you please ? Duchône senior is ferocious ; but 
what epithet will you allow me for the elder Letellier? Jourdan- 
Coupe-Tete is a monster ; but not so great a one as M. the 
Marquis de Lou vois. Sur, sir, I am sorry for Marie Antoi* 


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nette, archduchess aud queeo ; bat I am also sorry for that pooi 
Hugueuc^t woman, who, in 1665, under Louis the Great, sir, 
while with a nursing infant, was bound, naked to the wais% 
to a stake, and the child kept at a distance ; her breast swelled 
with milk and her heart with anguish; the little one, hungrj 
and pale, beheld that breast and cried and agonized ; the exe- 
3Utioner said to the woman, a mother and a nurse, ^ Abjure ! ' 
TÎvûig her her choice between the death of her infant and the 
death of her conscience. What say you to tliat torture of Tan- 
talus as applied to a mother? Bear this well in mind, sir : the 
French Revolution had its reasons for existence ; its wratli will 
be absolved by the future ; its result is the world made better. 
From its most terrible blows there comes forth a caress for the 
human race. I abridge, I stop, I have too much the advantage ; 
•noreover, I am dying." 

And ceasing to gaze at the Bishop, the conventionary con- 
t;luded his thoughts in these tranquil words : — 

^^Yes, the brutalities of progress are called revolutions. 
W'hen they are over, this fact is recognized, — that the human 
Ltkce has been treated harshly, but tha. it has progressed." 

The conventionary doubted not that be had successively con- 
f^uered all the inmost intrenchments of the Bishop. One re- 
mained, however, and from this intrenchraent, the last resource 
of Monseigneur Bienvcnu's resistance, came forth this reply, 
wherein appear^ nearly all the harshness of tlie beginning : — 

*^Pr<^e88 should believe in God. Good cannot have an 
tmpious servitor. He who is an atheist is but a bad leader for 
the human race." 

The former representative of the people made no reply. He 
was seized with a fit of trembling. He looked towards heaven, 
and in his glance a tear gathered slowly. When the eyelid was 
full, the tear trickled down his livid cheek, aud he said, almost 
in a stammer, quite low, and to himself, while his eyes «were 
plunged in the depths : — 

*' O thou ! O ideal ! Thou alone existest ! " 

The Bishop experienced an indescribable shock. 

After a pause, the old man raised a finger heavenward and 
said: — 

'^ The infinite is. He is there. If the infinite had no person, 
person would be without limit ; it would not be infinite ; in 
other words, it would not exist. There is, then, an 7. That i 
of the infinite is God." 

The dying man had pronounced these last words in a loud 
voice* and with the shiver of ecstasy, as though he beheld some 


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one. When he had spoken, his eyes closed. The effort had 
exhausted him. It was evident that he had just lived through 
in a moment the few hours which had been left to him. That 
which he had said brought hi» nearer to him who is in death. 
The supreme moment was approaching. 

The Bishop understood this ; time pressed ; it was as a priest 
that he had come : from extreme coldness he had passed by 
degrees to extreme emotion ; he gazed at those closed eyes, he 
took that wrinkled, aged and ice-cold hand in his, and bent ovei 
the dying man. 

" This hour is the hour of God. Do you not think that it 
would bo regrettable if we had met m vain ? " 

The conventionary opened his eyes again. A gravity mingled 
with gloom was imprinted on his countenance. 

'* Bishop," said he, with a slowness which probably arose 
more from his dignity of soul than from the failing of his 
strength, " I have passed my life in meditation, study, and con- 
templation. I was sixty years of age when my country called 
me and commanded me to concern myself with its affairs. I 
obeyed. Abuses existed, I combated them ; tyrannies existed, 
I destroyed them ; rights and principles existed, I proclaimed 
and confessed them. Our territory was invaded, I defended it ; 
ï*rance was menaced, I offered my breast. I was not rich ; I 
am poor. I have» been one of the masters of the state; the 
vaults of the treasuiT were encumbered with specie to such a 
degree that we were forced to shore up the walls, which were on 
the point of bursting beneath the weight of gold and silver ; I 
dined in Dead Tree Street, at twenty-two sous. I have suc- 
cored the oppressed, I have comforted 'the suffering. I tore 
the cloth from the altar, it is true ; but it was to bind up the 
wounds of my country. I have always upheld the march for- 
ward of the human race, forward towards the light, and I have 
sometimes resisted progress without pity. I have, when the 
occasion offered, protected my own adversaries, men of your 
profession. And there is at Peteghem, in Flanders, at the very 
spot where the Merovingian kings had their siimmer palace, a 
convent of Urbanists, the Abbey of Sainte Claire en Beau- 
lieu, which I saved in 1793. I have done my duty according to 
mj- powers, aild all the good that I was able. After which, 
I was hunted down, pursued, persecuted, blackened, jeered at, 
scornedy cursed, proscribed. For many years past I with my 
white hair have been conscious that many people think they 
have the right to despise me ; to the poor ignorant masses I 
•resent the visage of one damned. And I accept this isolatioi 


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FANTfNE. 4à 

of hatred, without hating any one mj'self. Now I am eighty 
six years old ; I am on the point of death. What is it that yon 
have come to ask of me ? " 

" Your blessing^" said the Bishop. 

And he knelt down. 

When the Bishop raised his head again, the face of the con« 
rentionary had become august. He had just expired. 

The Bishop returned home, deeply absorbed in thoughts 
Trhich cannot be known to us. He passed the whole night in 
prayer. On the following morning some bold and curious 
persons attempted to speak to him about member of the Con- 
vention G. ; he contented himself* with pointing heavenward. 

From that moment he redoubled his tenderness and brotherly 
feeling towards all children and sufferers. 

Any allusion to *' that old wretch of a G." caused him to 
fall into a singular preoccupation. No one could say that the 
passage of that soul before his, and the reflection of that grand 
conscience upon his, did not count for something in his approach 
to perfection. 

This ** pastoral visit" naturally furnished an occasion for a 
murmnr of comment in all the little local coteries. 

" Was the bedside of such a dying man as that the proper 
place for a bishop? There was evidently no conversion to be 
expected. All those revolutionists are backsliders. Then why 
go there? What was there to be seen there? He must have 
been very curious indeed to see a soul carried off by the 

One day a dowager of the impertinent variety who thinks 
herself spiritual, addressed this sally to him, ''•Monseigneur, 
people are inquiring when Your Greatness will receive the red 
cap !" — *' Oh ! oh 1 that's a coarae color," replied the Bishop. 
'* It is lucky that those who despise it in a cap revere it in a 

XI. — A Restriction. 

We should incur a great risk of deceiving ourselves, were we 
to oanclude from this that Monseigneur Welcome was " a phil- 
osophical bishop, " or a '* patriotic cui-é." His meeting, which 
may almost be designated as his union, with conventionary G., 
left behind it in his mind a sort of astonishment, which rendered 
him still more gentle. That is all. 

Although Monseigneur Bienvenu was far from being a politi- 
cian, this is, perhaps, the place to indicate very briefly what his 


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attitude was in the events of that epoch, suppoeing that Mon 
seigneur Bienvenu ever dreamed of having an attitude. 

Let us, then, go back a few years. 

Some time after the elevation of M. Myriel to the episcopate, 
the Emperor had made him a baron of the Empire, in company 
with many otlier bishops. The arrest of the Pope toolc place, 
as every one knows, on the night of the oth to the 6th of July, 
1809 ; on this occasion, M. Myriel was summoned by Napoleon 
CO the synod of the bishops of France and Italy convened at 
Paris. This synod was held at Nôtre-Dame, and assembled foi 
the first time on the 15th of June, 1811, under the presidency 
of Cardinal Fesch. M. Myriel was one of the ninety-five bish- 
ops who attended it. But he was present only at one 'sitting 
and at three or four private conferences. Bishop of a mountain 
diocese, living so very close to nature, in rusticity and deprivation, 
it appeared that he imported among these eminent personages, 
ideas which altered the temperature of the assembly. He very 
soon returned to D. He was interrogated as to this speedy 
return, and he replied : *' / embarrassed theni. Tlie outside air 
penetrated to tliem through me. I produced on them the effect oj 
an open door.*' 

On another occasion he said, " WTiat would you have? 
Those gentlernen are piinces. lam only a poor peasant bishop.'* 

The fact is that he displeased them. Among other strange 
things, it is said that he chanced to remark one evening, when 
he found himself at the house of one of his most notable coU 
leagues: "What beautiful clocks! What beautiful carpets! 
What beautiful liveries ! They must be a great trouble. I 
would not have all those superfluities, crying incessantly in my 
ears : ' There are people who are hungry ! There are people 
who are cold ! There are poor people 1 There are pdor 
people r " 

Let us remark, by the way, that the hatred of luxury is not ao 
intelligent hatred. This hatred would involve the hatred of the 
arts. Nevertheless, in churchmen, luxury is wrong, except in 
connection with representations and ceremonies. It seems to 
reveal habits which have very little that is charitable about tliem. 
An opulent priest is a contradiction. The priest must keep close 
to the poor. Now, can one come in contact incessantly night 
and day with all this distress, all these misfortunes, and this 
poverty, without having about one's own person a little of that 
misery, like the dust of labor? Is it possible to imagine a man 
near a brazier who is not warm ? Can one imagine a workman 
who is working near a furnace, and who has neither a singed 


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hair, nor blackened nails, nor a drop of sweat, nor a speck of 
ashes on bis face ? The first proof of charity in the priest, in 
the bishop especially, is poverty. 

This is, no doubt, what the Bishop of D. thought. 

It must not be supposed, however, that he shared what we call 
tiie ^^ ideas of the century '* on certain delicate points. He took 
very little part in the theological quarrels of the moment, and 
maintained silence on questions in which Church and State wer« 
implicated ; but if he had been strongly pressed, it seems that 
he would have been found to be an ultramontane rather than a 
gallican. Since we are making a portrait, and since we do not 
wish to conceal anything, we are forced to add that he was gla- 
cial towards Napoleon in his decline. Beginning with 1813, he 
gave in his adherence to or applauded all hostile manifestations. 
He refused to see him, as he passed through on his return from 
the island of Elba, and he abstained from ordering public 
prayers for the Emperor in his diocese during the Hundred 

Besides his sister, Mademoiselle Baptistine, he had two 
brothers, one a general, the other a prefect. He wrote to both 
with tolerable frequency. He was harsh for a time towards 
the former, because, holding a command in Provence at the 
epoch of the disembarkation at Cannes, the general had put 
himself at the head of twelve hundred men and had pursued 
the Emperor as though the latter had been a person whom one 
is desirous of allowing to escape. His corresix)ndence with the 
other brother, the ex-prefect, a fine, worthy man who lived in 
retirement at Paris, Rue Cassette, remained more affectionate. 

Thus Monseigneur Bienvenu also had his hour of party spirit, 
his hour of bitterness, his cloud. The shadow of the passions 
of the moment traversed this grand and gentle spirit occupied 
with eternal things. Certainly, such a man would have done 
well not to entertain any political opinions. Let there be no 
mistake as to our meaning : we are not confounding what is 
(ailed " political opinions " with the grand aspiration for prog- 
ress, with the sublime faith, patriotic, democratic, humane^ 
which in our day should be the very foundation of every gen- 
erous intellect. Without going deeply into questions which are 
only indirectly connected with the subject of this book, we will 
simply say this : It would have been well if Monseigneur Bien- 
venu had not been a Royalist, and if his glance had never been, 
for a single instant, turned away from that serene contempla- 
tion in which is flistinctly discernible, above the fictions and 
the hatrMJb of this world, above the stormv vicissitudes of 


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human things, the beaming of those three pare radiances, trnth, 
justice, and charity. 

While admitting that it was not for a political office that God 
created Monseigneur Welcome, we sliould have understood and 
admired his protest in the name of riglit and liberty, his proud 
opposition, his just but perilous resistance to the all-powerful 
Napoleon. But that which pleases us in people who are rising 
pleases us less in the case of people who are falling. We only 
!ove the fray so long as there is danger, and in any case, the 
combatants of the first hour have alone the right to be the ex- 
terminators of the last. He who has not been a stubborn 
accuser in prosperity should hold his peace in the face of rnin. 
The denunciator of success is the only legitimate executioner 
of the fall. As for us, when Providence intervenes and stiikes, 
we let it work. 1812 commenced to disarm us. In 1818 the 
cowardly breach of silence of that taciturn legislative body, 
emboldened by catastrophe, possessed only traits which aroused 
indignation. And it was a crime to applaud, in 1814, in the 
presence of those marshals who betrayed ; in the presence of 
that senate which passed from one dunghill to another, insult- 
ing after having deified ; in the presence of that idolatry which 
was loosing its footing and spitting on its idol, — it was a duty 
to turn aside the head. In 1815, when the supreme disasters 
filled the air, when France was seized with a shiver at their 
sinister approach, when Waterloo could be dimly discerned 
opening before Napoleon, the mournful acclamation of the army 
and the people to the condemned of destiny had nothing laugh* 
able in it, and, after making all allowance for the despot, a 
heart like that of the Bishop of D. ought not perhaps to have 
failed to recognize the august and touching features presented 
by the embrace of a great nation and a great man on the brink 
yt the abyss. 

With this exception, he was in all things just, true, equitable, 
intelligent, humble and dignified, beneficent, and kindly, which 
is only another sort of benevolence. He was a priest, a sage, 
and a man. It must be admitted, that even in the political 
views with which we have just reproached him, and which we 
are disposed to judge almost with severity, he was tolerant 
and easy, more so, perhaps, than we who are speaking here. 
The porter of the town-hall had been placed there by the Em- 
peror. He was an old non-commissioned ofi^icer of the old 
guard, a member of the Legion of Honor at Austerlitz, as 
much of a Bonapartist as the eagle. This poor fellow occa- 
sionally let slip inconsiderate remarks, which the law tbev 


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Btigmatized as sedMoua speeches. After the imperial profile 
disappeared from the Legion of Honor, he never dressed himself 
in his regimentals, as he said, so that he should not be obliged to 
. wear his cross. He had himself devoutly removed the imperial 
elfigy from the cross which Napoleon had given him ; this made 
a hole, and he would not put anything in its place. ^' I will 
die^" he said, "^^ rather than wear the three frogs upon my heart ! *' 
He liked to scoff aloud at Louis XVIII. *' The gouty old créa 
ture in English gaiters I " he said ; ^'let him take himself off tc 
Prussia with that queue of his" He was happy to combine iu 
the same imprecation the two things which he most detested, 
Prussia and England. He did it so often that he lost his place. 
There he was, turned out of the house, with his wife and chil- 
dren, and without bread. The Bishop sent for him, reproved 
him gently, and appointed. him beadle in the cathedral. 

In the course of nine years Monseigneur Bienvenu had, by 
dint of holy deeds and gentle manners, filled the town of D. 
with a sort of tender and filial reverence. Even his conduct 
towards Napoleon had been accepted and tacitly pardoned, as 
it were, by the people, the good and weakly flock who adored 
their emperor, but loved their bishop. 

Xn. — The SoLrruDE op Monseigneur Welcome. 

A BISHOP is almost always surrounded by a full squadron of 
Uttle abbés, just as a general is by a covey of young officers. 
This is what that charming Saint François de Sales calls some- 
where '* les prêtres blancs-becs,*' callow priests. Every career 
has its aspirants, who form a tmin for those who have attained 
eminence in it. There is no power which has not its depend- 
ents. There is no fortune which has not its court. The 
seekers of the future eddy around the splendid present. 
Every metropolis has its staff of officials. Every bishop 
who possesses the least influence has about him his patrol of 
cberubim from the seminai-y, which goes the rouud, and main* 
tains good order in the episcopal palace, and mounts guard 
over monseigneur's smile. To please a bishop is equivalent to 
getting one's foot in the stirrup for a sub-diaconate. It is 
necessary to walk one's path discreetly ; the apostleship does 
not disdain the canonship. 

Just as there are big- wigs elsewhere, there are big mitres in 
the Church. These are the bishops who stand well at Court, 
who are rich, well endowed, skilful, accepted by the world, who 
know how to pray, no doubt, but who know also how to beg, 


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who feel ittle scruple at making a whole diocese dance attend* 
ance in iheir [)er8on, who are connecting links between the 
sacristy and diplomacy, who are abbés rather than priests, prel« 
ates rather than bishops. Happy those who approach them! 
Being persons of influence, they create a shower about them, 
jpon tlie assiduous and the favored, and upon all the young 
men who understand the art of pleasing, of large parishes, pre- 
bends, archidiaconates, chaplaincies, and cathedral posts, while 
awaiting episcopal honors. As they advance themselves, they 
cause their satellites to progress also ; it is a whole solar sys- 
tem on the march. Their radiance casts a gleam of purple over 
their suite. Their prosperity is crumbled up behind the scenes, 
into nice little promotions. The larger the diocese of the patron, 
tlie fatter the curacy for the favorite. And then, there is Rome. 
A bishop who understands how to become an archbishop, an 
archbishop who knows how to become a cardinal, cames you 
with him as conclavist ; you enter a court of papal jurisdiction, 
you receive the pallium, and behold ! you are an auditor, then 
a papal chamberlain, then monsignor, and from a Grace to an 
Eminence is only a step, and between the Eminence and the 
Holiness there is but the smoke of a ballot. Every skulUcap 
may dream of the tiara. The priest is nowadays the only man 
who can become a king in a regular mannet ; and what a king ! 
the supreme king. Then what a nursery of aspirations is a 
seminary ! How many blushing choristers, how many youthful 
abbés bear on their heads Perrette's pot of milk ! Who knows 
how easy it is for ambition to call itself vocation ? in good faith, 
perchance, and deceiving itself, devotee that it is. 

Monseigneur Bienvenu, poor, humble, retiring, was not ac 
counted among the big mitres. . This was plain from the com- 
plete absence of young priests about him. We have seen thai 
he '*did not take" in Paris. Not a single future dreamed of 
engrafting itself on tliis solitary old man. Not a single sprout- 
ing ambition committed tlie folly of putting forth its foliage in 
his shadow. His canons and grand-vicars were good old men, 
rather vulgar like himself, walled up like him in this diocese, 
without exit to a cardinalship, and who resembled their bishop, 
with this difference, that they were finished and he was com- 
pleted. The impossibility of growing great under Monseigneur 
Bienvenu was so well understood, that no sooner had the young 
men whom he ordained left the seminary than they got them- 
selves recommended to the archbishops of Aix or of Auch, and 
went off in a great hurry. For, in short, we repeat it, men wish 
U> be pushed. A sairt who dwells in n paroxysm of abnegation 


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Ib a dangerous neighbor; he might communicate to you, b}* 
co&ti^ion, an incurable poverty, an anchylosis of the joints, 
which are useful in advancement, and, in short, more renuncia- 
tion than you desire ; and tliis infectious virtue is avoided. 
Hence the isolation of Monseigneur Bienvenu. We live in the 
midst of a gloomy society. Success ; that is the lesson which 
falls drop by drop from the slope of corruption. 

Be it said in passing, that success Is a very hideous thing. 
Its false resemblance to merit deceives men. For the masses ; 
success has almost the same profile as supremacy. Success, 
that Meusechmus of talent, has one dupe, — history. Juvenal and 
Tacitus alone ginimble at it. In our day, a philosophy which 
is almost official has entered into its service, wears the livery 
of success, and performs the service of its antechamber. iSuc- 
ceed : theory. Prosperity argues capacit}'. Win in the lottery, 
and behold ! you are a clever man. He who triumphs is vener- 
ated. Be born with a silver spoon in your mouth ! everything 
lies in that. Be lucky, and you will have all the rest ; be happy, 
and people will think you great. Outside of five or six immense 
exceptions, which compose the splendor of a century, contem- 
poraiy admii*ation is nothing but short-sightedness. Gilding is 
gold. It does no harm to be the first arrival" by pure chance, 
60 IcHig as you do arrive. The common herd is an old Nar* 
cissus who adores himself, and who applauds the vulgar herd. 
That enormous ability by virtue of which one is Moses, -^schy- 
lus, Dante, Michael Angelo, or Napoleon, the multitude awards 
on the spot, and by acclamation, to whomsoever attains his 
object, in whatsoever it may consist. Let a notary transfigure 
himself into a deputy ; let a false Corneille compose Tiridate; 
let a eunuch come to possess a harem ; let a military Prud« 
homme accidentally' win the decisive battle of an e|x>ch ; let an 
apothecary invent cardboard shoe-soles for the army of the 
Sanibre-and-Meuse, and constiiict for himself, out of tiiis card- 
board, sold as leather, four hundred thousand francs of income ; 
let a pork-packer espouse usury, and cause it to bring forth 
seven or eight millions, of which he is the father and of which 
it is the mother ; let a preacher become a bishop by force of 
his nasal drawl ; let the steward of a fine family be so rich on 
retiring from service that he is made minister of finances, — and 
men call that Genius, just as they call the face of Mousqueton 
Beauty^ and tlie mien of Claude Majesty. With the constella- 
tions of space they confound the stars of the abyss which are 
made in the soft mire of the puddle by the feet of ducks. 


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We are not obliged to sound the Bishop of D. on the soora 
of orthodoxy. In the presence of such a soul wu feel ourselves 
in no mood but respect. The conscience of the just man should 
be accepted on his word. Moreover, certain natures being 
given, we admit the possible development of all the beauties of 
human yirtuc in a belief that differs from our own. 

What did he think of this dogma, or of that mystery ? These 
secjrets of the inner tribunal of the conscience are known only 
to the tomb, where souls enter naked. The point on which we 
are certain is, that the difficulties of faith never resolved them- 
selves into hypocrisy in his case. No decay is possible to the 
diamond. He believed to the extent of his powers. '* Credo in 
PaJtrem^'' he often exclaimed. Moreover, he drew from good 
works that amount of satisfaction which suffices to the con- 
science, and which whispers to a ' man, *' Thou art with 

The point which we consider it our duty to note is, that out- 
side of and beyond his faith, as it were, the Bishop possessed 
an excess of love. In was in that quarter, quia mtUtum amavit, 
— because he loved much — that he was regarded as vulnerable 
by " serious men," " grave persons " and ^^ reasonable people" ; 
favorite locutions of our sad world where egotism takes its 
word of command from pedantry. What was this excess of 
love? It was a serene benevolence which overflowed men, 
as we have already pointed out, and which, on occasion, 
extended even to things. He lived without disdain. He 
was indulgent towards God's creation. Every man, even 
the best, has within him >a thouglitless harshness which he 
reserves for animals. The Bishop of D. had none of that 
harshness, which is peculiar to many priests, nevertheless. 
Ho did not go as far as the Brahmin, but he seemed to have 
weighed this saying of Ecclesiastes : '* Who knoweth whither 
the soul of the animal goeth?" Hideousness of aspect, de- 
formity of instinct, troubled him not, and did not arouse his 
indignation. He was touched, almost softened by them. It 
seemed as though he went thoughtfully away to seek beyond the 
bounds of the life which is apparent, the cause, the explanation, 
or the excuse for them. He seemed at times to be asking God 
to commute these penalties. He examined without wrath, and 
with the eye of a linguist who is deciphering a palimpsest, that 
portion of chaos which still exists in nature. This revery 
sometimes caused him to utter odd sayings. One morning be 


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was in his garden, and thought himself alone, but his sister 
was walking behind him, unseen by him : suddenly he paused 
and gazed at something on the ground ; it was a large, black, 
hairy, frightful spider. His sister heard him say : — 

"Poor beast I It is not its fault ! " 

Why not mention these almost divinely childish sayings of 
kindness ? Puerile they may be ; but these sublime puerilities 
were peculiar to Saint Francis d'Assisi and of Marcus Aure- 
lius. One day he sprained his ankle in his effort to avoid step- 
ping on an ant. Thus lived thjs just man. Sometimes he fell 
asleep in his garden, and then there was nothing more venerable 

Monseigneur Bienvenu had formerly been, if the stories anent 
his youth, and even in regard to his manhood, were to be be- 
lieved, a passionate, and, possibly, a violent man. His universal 
suavity was less an instinct of nature than the result of a 
gi-and conviction which had filtered into his heart through the 
medinm of life, and had trickled there slowly, thought by 
thought; for, in a character, as in a reck, there may exist 
apertures made by drops of water. These hollows are un- 
effaeeable; these formations are indestructible. 

In 1815, as we think we have already said, he reached his 
seventy-fifth birthday, but he did not appear to be more than 
sixty. He was not tall ; he was rather plump ; and, in order to 
combat this tendency, he was fond of taking long strolls on foot : 
his step was firm, and his form was but slightly bent, a detail from 
which we do not pretend to draw any conclusion. Gregory XVI., 
at the age of eighty, held himself erect and smiling, which did 
not prevent him from being a bad bishop. Monseigneur Wel- 
come had what the people term " a fine head," but so amiable 
was he that they forgot that it was fine. 

When he conversed with that infantile gayety which was one 
of his charms, and of which we have already spoken, people felt 
at their ease with him, and Joy seemed to radiate from his whole 
person. His fresh and ruddy complexion, his very white teeth, 
all of which he had preserved, and which were displayed by his 
smile, gave him that open and easy air which causes the remark 
to be made of a man, *' He's a good fellow " ; and of an old man, 
"He is a fine man." That, it will be recalled, was the effect 
which he produced upon fîapoleon. On the first encounter, and 
to one who saw him for the first time, he was nothing, in fact, 
but a fine man. But if one remained near him for a few hours, 
and beheld him in the least degree pensive, the fine man became 
gradually transfigured,, and took on some imposing quality, I 


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know not what ; his broad and serious brow, rendered august b^ 
bis white locks, became august also by virtue of meditation; 
najesty radiated from his goodness, though his goodness ceased 
*iot to be radiant ; one experienced something of the emotion 
which one would feel on beholding a smiling angel slowly unfold 
his wings, without ceasing to smile. Respect, an unutterable 
respect, penetrated you by degrees and mounted to your heart, 
and one felt that one had before him one of those strong, thor- 
oughly tried, and indulgent souls where thought is so grand 
that it can no longer be anything but gentle. 

As we have seen, prayer, the celebration of the offices of re- 
ligion, alms-giving, the consolation of the afflicted, the cultivation 
of a bit of land, fraternity, frugality, hospitality, renunciation, 
confidence, study, work, filled every day of his life. Filled is 
exactly the word ; certainly the Bishop's day was quite full to the 
bnm, of good words and good deeds.' Nevertheless, it was not 
complete if cold or rainy weather prevented his passing an hour or 
two in his garden before going to bod, and after tlie two women 
had retired. It seemed to be a sort of rite with him, to prepare 
himself for slumber by meditation in the presence of the grand 
spectacles of the nocturnal heavens. Sometimes, if the two old 
women were not asleep, they heard him pacing slowly along the 
walks at a very advanced hour of the night. He was there 
alone, communing with himself, peaceful, adoring, comparing 
the serenity of his heart with the serenity of the ether, moved 
amid the darkness by the visible splendor of the constellations 
and the invisible splendor of God, opening his heart to the 
thoughts which fall from the Unknown. At such moments, 
while he offered his heart at the hour when nocturnal flowers 
offer their perfume, illuminated like a lamp amid the starry 
night, as he poured himself out in ecstasy in the midst of the 
jni versai radiance of creation, he could not have told himself, 
probably, what was passing in his spirit ; he felt something take 
its flight from him, and something descend into him. Mysteri- 
ous exchange of the ab3'sses of tlie soul with the abysses of the 
universe ! 

He thought of the grandeur and the presence of God ; of the 
future eternit3', that strange mystery; of the eternity past, a 
mystery still more strange ; of all the infinities, which pierced 
their way into all his senses, beneath his eyes ; and, without 
seeking to comprehend tlie incomprehensible, he gazed upon it. 
He did not stud}' God ; he was dazzled by him. Ho considered 
'those magnificent conjunctions of atoms, wliich communicate 
aspects to matter, reveal forces by verifying them, create indi- 


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riduatities in unity, proportions in extent, the innumerable in 
the infinite, and, tbrougli light, produce beauty. These cou- 
juuctions are formed and dissolved iuoessantly ; hence life and 

He seated himself on a wooden bench, with his back agaiust 
.1 decrepit vine ; he gazed at the str«rs, past the puny and stunted 
silhouettes of his fruit-trees. This quarter of an acre, so poorly 
planted, so encumbered with mean buildings and sheds, was dear 
to him, and satisfied his wants. 

What more was needed by this old man, who divided the lei 
sare of his life, where there was so little leisure, between gar- 
dening in the daytime and contemplation at night ? Was not 
this narrow enclosure, with the heavens for a ceiling, sufFudeut 
to enable him to adore God in his most divine works, in turo " 
Does not this comprehend all, in fact? and what is there left U 
ileâire beyond it? A little garden in which to walk, and immen- 
sity in which to dream. At ope's feet that which can be culti- 
vated and plucked ; over head that which one can study and medi- 
tate upon : some flowers on earth, and all the stars in the sky, 

XIV. — What he thought. 

One last word. 

Since this sort of details might, particularly at the present 
moment, and to use an expression now in fashion, give to the 
Bishop of D. a certain '^ pantheistical" physiognomy, and 
induce the belief, either to his credit or his discredit, that he 
entertained one of those personal philosophies wliich are pecu- 
liar to our century, which sometimes spring up in solitary spirits, 
and there take on a form and grow until &ey usurp the place of 
religion, we insist upon it, that not one of those persons who 
knew Monseigneur Welcome would have thought himself author- 
ized to think anything of the sort. That which enlightened 
this man was his heart. His wisdom was made of the light 
which comes from there. 

No systems ; many works. Abstruse speculations contain 
vertigo ; no, there is nothing to indicate that he risked his mind 
in apocalypses. The apostle may be daring, but the bishop must 
be timid.* He would probably have felt a scruple at sounding 
too far in advance certain problems which are, in a manner, 
reserved for terrible great minds. There is a sacred horror be- 
neath the porches of the enigma ; those glolmy openings stand 
yawning there, but something tells you, you, a passer-by in 
life, that you must not enter. Woe to him who penetrates 


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Geniuses in the impenetrable depths of abstraction and pun» 
spéculation, situated, so to speak, a))Ove all dogmas, propose 
their ideas to (iod. Their prayer audaciously offers discussion. 
Their adoration interrogates. This is direct religion, which 
is full of anxiet}' and responsibility for him who attempts ita 
steep cliffs. 

Human meditation has no limits. At its own risk and peril 
it analyzes and digs deep into its own bedazzlement. One might 
almost say, that by a sort of splendid reaction, it with it daz- 
zles nature ; the mysterious world which surrounds us render» 
back what it has received ; it is probable that the contemplator» 
are contemplated. However that may be, there are on earth 
men who — are they men ? — perceive distinctly at the verge of 
the horizons of revery the heights of the absolute, and who 
have the terrible vision of the infinite mountain. Monseigneur 
Welcome was not one of those men ; Monseigneur Welcome 
was not a genius. He would. have feared those sublimities 
whence some very great men even, like Swedenborg and Pascal, 
have slipped into insanity. Certainly, these powerful reveries 
have their moral utility, and by these arduous paths one ap- 
proaches to ideal perfection. As for him, he took the path 
which shortens, — the Gospel's. 

He did not attempt to impart to his chasuble the folds of 
Elijah's mantle ; he projected no ray of future upon the dark 
groundswell of events ; he did not seek to condense in flame the 
light of tilings ; he had nothing of the prophet and nothing of 
the magician about him. This humble soul loved, and that was 

That he carried prayer to the pitch of a superhuman aspira- 
tion is probable : but one can no more pra}- too much than one 
can love too much ; and if it is a heresy to pray beyond the texts. 
Saint Theresa and Saint Jerome would be heretics. 

He inclined towards all that groans and all that expiates. 
The universe appeared to him like an immense malady ; every- 
where he felt fever, everywhere he heard the sound of suffering, 
and, without seeking to solve the enigma, he strove to dress the 
wound. The teiTil)ïe spectacle of created things developed ten- 
derness in him ; he was occupied only in finding for himself, 
and in inspiring others with the best way to compassionate 
and relieve. That which exists was for this good and rare 
pHest a permanentu subject of sadness which sought consola- 
tion. V 

There are men who toil at extracting gold ; he toiled at the 
extraction of pity. Univereal misery was his mine. The 


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MfdnesB which reigned everywhere was hut an excuse foi unfailing 
kindness. Love each other; 'he declared this to be complete, 
desired nothing further, and that was the whole of his doctrine. 
One day^ that man who believed himself to be a ^^ philosopher, ** 
the senator who has already been alluded to, said to the Bishop : 
''Just survey the spectacle of the world: all war against all; 
the strongest has the most wit. Your love each other is non- 
sense." — " Well" replied Monseigneur Welcome, without con- 
testing the point, ^^if it is nonsense j the said shotUd shut itselj 
up in it^ as the pearl in the oyster,** Thus he shut himself up, 
he lived there, he was absolutely satisfied with it, leaving on 
one side the prodigious questions which attract and tciTify, the 
fathomless perspectives of abstraction, the precipices of meta- 
physics — all those profundities which converge, for the apostle 
in (rod, for the atheist in nothingness ; destiny, good and evil, 
the war of being against being, the conscience of man, the 
thoughtful somnambulism of the animal, the transformation in 
death, the recapitulation of existences which the tomb contains, 
the incomprehensible grafting of successive loves on the per- 
sistent /, the essence, the substance, the Nile, and the Ens, the 
soul, uatm*e, liberty, necessity ; perpendicular problems, sinister 
ol)seuritie8, where lean the gigantic archangels of the human 
mind ; formidable abysses, which Lucretius, Manou, Saint 
Paul, Dante, contemplate with eyes flashing lightning, which 
seems b}* its steady gaze on the infinite to cause stars to blaze 
forth there. 

Monseigneur Bienvenu was simply a man who took note of 
the exterior of m3sterious questions without scrutinizing them, 
and without troubling his own mind with them, and who cher- 
ished in his own soul a grave respect for darkness. 



I. — The Evening op a Day of Walking. 

Early in the month of October, 1815, about an hour before 
sunset, a man who was travelling on foot entered the little 
town of D. The few inhabitants who were at their windows or 
on their thresholds at the moment stared at this traveller with 
& sort of uneasiness. It was difficult to encounter a wavfarei 


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of more wrctchf.'d appearance. He was a man of medium stat 
ure, thickset aud robust, in the prime of life. He might have 
been forty-six or forty-eight years old. A cap with a drooping 
leather visor partly concealed his face, burned and tanned by 
sun and wind, and dripping with perspiration. His shirt ol 
coarse yellow linen, fastened at the neck by a small silver an- 
chor, permitted a view of his hairy breast : he had a cravat 
twisted into a sti'ing ; trousers of blue drilling, worn and thread- 
bare, white on one knee and torn on the other ; an old gray, tat- 
tered blouse, patched on one of the elbows with a bit of green 
cloth sewed on with twine ; a tightly packed soldier's knapsack, 
well buckled and perfectly new, on his back; an enormous, 
knott}' stick in his hand ; iron-shod shoes on his stockingless 
feet ; a shaved head and a long beard. 

The sweat, the heat, the journey on foot, the dust, added I 
know not what sordid quality to this dilapidated whole. His 
hair was closely cut, yet bristling, for it had begun to grow a lit- 
tle, and did not seem to have been cut for some time. 

No one knew him. He was evidently only a chance passer- 
by. Whence came he ? From the soath ; from the seashore, 
perhaps, for he made his entrance into D. by the same street 
which, seven months previously, had witnessed the passage of 
the Emperor Napoleon on his way from Cannes to Paris. This 
man must have been walking all day. He seemed very much 
fatigued. Some women of the ancient market town which is 
situated below the city had seen him pause beneath the trees of 
the boulevard Gassendi, and drink at the fountain which stands 
at the end of the promenade. He must have been very thirsty : 
for the children who followed him saw him stop again for a 
drink, two hundred paces further on, at the fountain in the 

On arriving at the corner of the Rue Poichevert, he turned to 
the left, and directed his steps toward the town-hall. He 
entered, then came out a quarter of an hour later. A gendarme 
was seated near the door, on the stone bench which General 
Drouot had mounted on the 4th of March to read to the fright- 
ened throng of inhabitants of D. the proclamation of the Gulf 
Juan. The man pulled off his cap and humbly saluted tlie 

The gendarme, without replying to his salute, stared atten 
tively at him, followed him for a while with his eyes, and then 
entered the town-hall. 

There then existed at D. a fine inn at the sign of the C^^ss 
of Colbas. This inn had for a landlord a certain Jacquio 


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Labarre, a man of consideration in the town on account of hia 
relationship to another Labarre, who kept the inn of the Titrée 
Dauphins in Grenoble, and had served in the Guides. At tlie 
time of the Emperor's landing many rumors had circulated 
throughout the country with regard to this inn of the Three 
Lktuphins. It was said that General Bertrand, disguised as a 
carter, had made frequent trips thither in the month of Januarj-, 
and that he had distributed crosses of honor to the soldiers and 
bandfuls of gold to the citizens. The truth is, that when the Em- 
peror entered Grenoble he had refused to install himself at the 
hotel of the prefecture ; he had thanked the mayor, saying, ^^lam 
goiuQ to the house of a hxtve rnaii of my aoquaintance*' ; and he 
had betaken himself to the Three Dauphins, This glory of the 
Ubarre of the Three Dauphins was reflected upon the Labarre 
of the Cross of Oolbas, at a distance of five and twenty leagues. 
It was said of him in the town, ** Tliat is the cousin of the man 
of Grenoble," 

The man bent his steps towards this inn, which was the best in 
the country -side. He entered the kitchen, which opened on a 
level with the street. All the stoves were lighted ; a huge fire 
blaaed gayly in the fireplace. The host, who was also the chief 
cook, was going from one stew-pan to another, very busily 
snperintending an excellent dinner designed for the wagoners, 
whose loud talking, conversation, and laughter were audible from 
an adjoining apartment. Any one who has travelled knows that 
there is no one who indulges in better cheer than wagoners. A 
fat marmot, flanked by white partridges and heather-cocks, was 
turning on a long spit before the fire ; on the stove, two huge 
carps from Lake Lauzet and a trout from Lake Alloz were 

The host, hearing the door open and seeing a newcomer enter, 
8aid, without raising his eyes from his stoves : — 

"What do you wish, sir?" 

" Food and lodging," said the man. 

"Nothing easier," replied the host. At that moment he 
^rned his head, took in the traveller's appearance with a 
single glance, and added, '* By paying for it." 

The man drew a large leather purse from the pocket of his 
blonse, and answered, " I have money." 

"In that case, we are ai; your service," said the host. 

The man put his purse back in his pocket, removed his knap 
sack from his back, put it on the ground near the door, retained 
his grtick in his hand, and seated himself on a low stool close to 
the tire. D. is in the mountains. The evenings are cold there 
JÏ October. 


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But as the host went back and forth, be scrutinized the trav 

" Will dinner be ready soon? " said the man. 

*' Immediately," replied the landlord. 

While the newcomer was warming himself before tûe fire, with 
his back turned, the worthy host, Jaequin Labarre, drew a pencil 
from his pocket, then tore off the corner of an old newspaper 
which was lyiug on a small table near the window. On the white 
margin he wrote a line or two, folded it without sealing, and 
then intrusted this scrap of paper to a child who seemed to 
serve him in the capacity both of scullion and lackey. The 
landlord w^hispered a word in the scullion's ear, and the child 
set off on a run in the direction of the town-hall. 

The traveller saw nothing of all this. 

Once more he inquired, '* Will dinner be ready soon?" 

*' Immediately," responded the host. 

The child returned. He brought back the paper. The host 
unfolded it eagerly, like a person who is expecting a reply. 
He seemed to read it attentively, then tossed his head, and re- 
mained thoughtful for a moment. Then he took a step in the 
direction of the traveller, who appeared to be immersed in 
reflections which were not very serene. 

*' I cannot receive you, sir," said he. 

The man half ro.^e. 

''What! Are you afraid that I will not pay you? Do yon 
want me to pay you in advance? I have money, I tell you." 

'' It is not that." 

''What then?" 

" You have money — " 

" Yes," said the man. 

" And I," said the host, " have no room." 

The man resumed tranquilly, " Put me in the stable." 

" I cannot." 


*' The horses take up all the space." 

" Very well ! " retorted the man ; " a comer of the loft then. 
a truss of straw. We will see about that after dinner." 

" I cannot give you any dinner." 

This declaration, made in a measured but firm tone, struck 
the stranger as grave. He rose. 

'• Ah ! bah ! But I am dying of hunger. I have been walk- 
ing since sunrise. I have travelled twelve league/»^ I pay. I 
wish to eat."- • 

" I have nothing," said the landlord. 


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Tha man burst ont laughing, and turned towards the flre|)Ue6 
iiod the stoves : ^^ Nothing I and all that?" 

^* All that is engaged." 

'♦By whom?** 

•* By messieurs the wagoners." 

•* How many are there of them?" 


*♦ There is enough food there for twenty.** 

♦♦ They have engaged the whole of it and paid for It in ad- 

The man seated himself again, and said, without raising his 
foioe, *^ I am at an inn ; I am hungry, and I shall remain." 

Then the host bent down to his ear, and said in a tone which 
made him start, '' Go away ! " 

At that moment the ti*ayeller was bending forward and thrust* 
Ing some brands into the fire with the iron-shod tip of his staff ; 
he turned quickly round, and as he opened }iis mouth to reply, 
the host gazed steadily at him and added, still in a low voice : 
'* Stop I there's enough of that sort of talk. Do you want me 
to tell you your name? Your name is Jean Valjean. Now do 
you want me to tell you who you are ? When I saw you come 
in I suspected something ; I sent to the town-hall, and this is 
the reply that was sent to me. Can you read ? " 

So saying, he held out to the stranger, fully unfolded, th« 
paper which had just travelled from the inn to the town-hall, 
and from the town-hall to the inn. The man cast a glance 
upon it. The landlord resumed after a pause. 

•* I am in the habit of being polite to every one. Go away 1" 

The man dropped his head, picked up the knapsack which he 
had deposited on the gi-ound, and took his departure. 

He chose the principal street. He walked straight on at a 
renture, keeping close to the houses like a sad and humiliated 
man. He did not turn round a single time. Had he done so, 
he would have seen the host of the Gross of Colbas standing on 
hi9 threshold, surrounded by all the guests of his inn, and all 
the posaers-by in the street, talking vivaciously, and pointing 
him out with his finger ; and, from the glances of terror and 
distrust cast by the group, he might have divined that his 
urival would speedily become an event for the whole town. 

He saw nothing of all this. People who are crushed do not 
look behind them. They know but too well the evil fate which 
fbllows them. 

Thus he proceeded for some time, walking on without ceasmg, 
tmyersing at random streets of which he knew nothing, for 


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getfui of his fatigue, as is often the case when a man is sad. 
All at once he felt the i)ang8 of hunger sharply. Night waâ 
drawing near. He glanced about him, to see whether he could 
not discover some shelter. 

The tine hostelry was closed to him ; he was seeking some 
very humble public house, some hovel, however lowly. 

Just then a light flashed up at the end of the streets ; a piue 
branch suspended from a cross-beam of iron was outlined 
against the white sky of the twilight. He proceeded thither. 

It proved to be, in fact, a public house. The public house 
which is in the Rue de ChatTaut. 

The waymrer halted for a moment, and peeped through the 
window into the interior of the low-studded room of the public 
house, illuminated by a small lamp on a table and by a lai^e 
fire on the hearth. Some men were engaged in drinking thero 
The landlord was warming himself. An iron pot, suspended 
from a crane, bubbled over the flame. 

The entrance to this public house, which is also a sort of an 
Inn, is by two doors. One opens on the street, the other upon 
a small yard filled with manure. The traveller dared not enter 
by the street door. He slipped into the yard, halted again» theo 
raised the latch timidly and opened the door. 

^* Who goes there?" said the master. 

** Some one who wants supper and bed.** 

** Good. We furnish supper and bed here.** 

He entered. All the men who were drinking turned round. 
The lamp illuminated him on one side, the firelight on the o<,hcr. 
They examined him for some time while he was taking off his 

The host said to hhn, ^^ There is the fire. The supper is 
cooking in the pot. Come aci warm yourself, comrade." 

He approached and seated himself near the hearth. He 
stretched out bis feet, which were exhausted with fatigue, 
to the fire; a fine odor was emitted by the pot. All thai 
sould be distinguished of his face, beneath his cap, whicli 
was well pulled down, assumed a vague appearance of comfort 
mingled with that other poignant aspect which habitual suffering 

It was, moreover, a firm, energetic, and melancholy profile 
This physiognomy was strangely composed ; it began by seem 
ing humble, and ended by seeming severe. The eye shone 
beneath its lashes like a fire beneath brushwood. 

One of the men seated at the table, however, was a fish 
oaongêr who, before entering the public house of the Bue d( 


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Chaffaut, had been to stable his horse at Labarre*6. It chauoed 
that he had that very roorniug encountered tliU unprepossess- 
ing stranger on the road between Bras d*Asse and — I have 
forgotten the name. I think it was Ëscoublon. Now, when 
he met him, the man, who then seemed already extremely weary^ 
had requested him to take him on his crupper ; to which the 
Gshmonger had made no reply except b}* redoubling his gait. 
This fishmonger had been a member half an hour previously of 
the group which sui rounded Jaoquin Labarre, and had himself 
related his disagreeable eucouuter of the morning to the people 
at the Cross of Colbas, From where he sat he nmde an imper- 
ceptible sign to the tavern-keeper. The tavern-keeper went to 
him. They exchanged a few words in a low tone. The man 
had again become absorbed in his reflections. 

The tavern-keeper returned to the fireplace, laid his hand 
abruptly on the shoulder of the man, and said to him : — 

" You are going to get out of liere." 

The stranger turned round and replied gently, **Ahf You 


*' I was sent away from the other inn." 

" And you are to be turned out of this one." 

" Where would you have me go ? " 

** Elsewhere." 

The man took his stick and his knapsack and departed. 

As he went out, some children who had followed him from 
Uie Ciryss of Colbas^ and who seemed to be lying in wait for 
bim, threw stoties at him. He retrac</d his step^^ in anger, and 
threatened them with his stick : tiie children dispersed like a 
flock of birds. 

He passed before the prison. At the door hung an iron 
chain attached to a bell. He rang. 

The wicket opened. 

•' Turnkey," said he, removing his cap politely, *' will you 
ia«re the kindness to admit me, and give me a lodging for the 

A voice rei)lied : — 

" The prison is not an inn. Get yourself arrested, and you 
irill be admitted." 

The wicket closed again. 

He entered a little street in which there were many gardens. 
'V)rae of them are enclosed only by hedges, which lends a cheer* 
^n1 aspect to the street. In the midst of these gardens and 
hedf^es he canght sight of a small bouse of a single story, the 


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window of which was lighted ap. He peered through tto 
pane as he had doue at the public house. Within was a large 
whitewashed room, with a bed draped in printed cotton stuff, 
and a cradle in ouc corner, a few wooden chairs, and a double- 
barrelled gun hanging on the wall. A table was spread in the 
centre of the room, A copper lamp illuminated the tablecloth 
of coarse white linen, the pewter jug shining like silver, and 
filled with wine, and the brown, smoking soup-tureen. At 
this table sat a man of about forty, with a merry and open 
countenance, who was dandling a little child on his knees. 
Close by a very 3'oung woman was nursing another child. The 
father was laughing, the child was laughing, the mother was 

The stranger paused a moment in revery before this tender 
and calming spectacle. What was taking place within him? 
He alone could have told. It is probable that he thought that 
this joyous house would be hospitable, and that, in a place 
where he beheld so much happiness, he would find perhaps a 
little pity. 

He tapped on the pane with a very small and feeble knock. 

They did not hear him. 

He tapped again. 

He heard the woman say, ^* It seems to me, hnsband, that 
Bome one is knocking." 

** No," replied the husband. 

He tapped a third time. 

The husband rose, took the lamp, and went to the door, whidi 
he opened. 

He was a man of lofty stature, half peasant, half artisan. 
He wore a huge leathern apron, which reached to his left 
shoulder, and which a hammer, a red handkerchief, a powder- 
horn, and all sorts of objects which were upheld b}' the girdle 
as in a pocket, caused to bulge out. He carried his head 
thrown backwards ; his shirt, widely opened and turned back, 
displayed his bull neck, white and bare. He had thick eye- 
lashes, enormous black whiskers, prominent eyes, the lower 
part of his face like a snout ; and besides all this, that air of 
being on his own ground, which is indescribable. 

*^ Pardon me, sir," said the wayfarer. '' Could you, in con^i 
sideration of payment, give me a plate of soup and a corner ol 
that shed yonder in the garden, in which to sleep? Tell me; 
can you ? For money ? " 

" Who are you?" demanded the master of the house. 

The man replied : ^* I have juat come from Paj-MoissoiL ) 


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oave walked all day long. I have trayelled twelve leagaea. 

(Van you ? — if I pay ? " 

^^i wonld not refuse," said the peasant, ^^to lodge anj 
respectable man who would pay me. But why do yoa not go 
to the inn?" 

" There is no room." 

«^ Bah ! Impossible. This is neither a fahr nor a market day. 
Have vou been to Labarre ? " 

" Yes." 


The traveller replied with embarrassment: *^ I do not know. 
He did not receive me." 

'* Have you been to What*s-his-name's, in the Rue Chaffaut?" 

The stranger's embarrassment increased ; he stammered, "He 
did not receive me either." 

The peasant's countenance assumed an expression of distrust ; 
he sun^eyed the newcomer from head to feet, and suddenly 
exclaimed, with a sort of shudder : ^ 

" Are you the man? — " 

He cast a fresh glance upon the stranger, took three steps 
backwards, placed the lamp on the table, and took his gun down 
from the wall. 

Meanwhile, at the words, Are you the man 9 the woman 
had risen, had clasped her two children in her arms, and had 
taken refuge precipitately behind her husband, staring in terror 
at the stranger, with her bosom uncovered, and with frightened 
eyes, as she murmured in a low tone, '* Tso-maraude,*' ^ 

All this took place in less time than it requires to picture it 
to one's self. After having scrutinized the man for several 
moments, as one scrutinizes a viper, the master of the house 
returned to the door and said :— * 

" Clear out I " 

^^ For pity's sake, a glass of water," said the man. 

" A shot from my gun ! " said the peasant. 

Then he closed the door violently, and the man heard him 
ihoot two large bolts. A moment later, the window-shutter 
was closed, and the sound of a bar of iron which was placed 
against it was audible outside. 

Night continued to fall. A cold wind from the Alps was 
blowing. By the light of the expiring day the stranger per* 
ceived, in one of the gardens which bordered the street, a sort 
of hut, which seemed to him to be built of sods. He climbed 
over the wooden fence resolutely, and found himself in the 
^ PftUds of tbe French Alps : chat de maraude, rascallv marauder* 


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garden. He approached the but ; its door oonsisted of a ferj 
low and narrow aperture, and it resembled those buildings whicb 
road-laborers construct for themselves along the roads. He 
thought without doubt, that it was, in fact, the dwelling of a 
road-laborer ; he was suffering from cold and hunger, but this 
was, at least, a shelter from the cold. This sort of dwelling is 
not usually occupied at night. He threw himself flat on his 
face, and crawled into the hut. It was warm there, and he 
found a tolerably good bed of straw. He lay, for a moment, 
stretched out on this bed, without the power to make a move- 
ment, so fatigued was he. Then, as the knapsack on his bacli 
was in his way, and as it furnished, moreover, a pillow ready 
to his hand, he set about unbuckling one of tlie straps. At that 
moment, a ferocious growl became audible. He raised his eyes. 
The head of an enoi*mous dog was outlined in the darkness al 
the entrance of the hut. 

It was a dog's kenneU 

He was himself vigorous and formidable ; he armed himself 
with his staff, made a shield of his knapsack, and made his way 
out of the kennel in the best way he could, not without enlarg 
ing the rents in his rags. 

He left the garden in the same manner, but backwards, being 
obliged, in ortler to keep the dog respectful, to have recourse to 
that manœuvre with his stick, which masters in that sort oi 
fencing designate as la rose couverte. 

When he had, not without difficulty, repassed the fence, and 
found himself once more in the street, alone, without refuge^ 
without shelter, without a roof over his liead, chased even from 
that bed of straw and from that miserable kennel, he dropped 
rather than seated himself on a stone, and it appears that a 
passer-by heard him exclaim, *' I am not even a dog ! " 

He soon rose again and resumed his march. He went out oi 
the town, hoping to find some tree or hay-stack in the fields 
which would afford him shelter. 

He walked thus for some time, with his head still drooping. 
When he felt himself far from every human habitation, he 
raised his eyes and gazed searciiingly about him. He was in a 
fleld. Before him was one of those low hills covered with close- 
cut stubble, which, after the harvest, resemble shaved heads. 

The horizon was perfectly' black. This was not alone the 
obscurity of night ; it was caused by very low-hanging clouda 
which seemed to rest upon the hill itself, and which were mount- 
ing and filling the whole sky. Meanwhile, as the moon was 
about to rise, and as there was still floating in the zenith p 


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remnant of the brightness of twilight, these clouds formed at 
the ftummit of the sky a soil of whitish arch, whence a gleam 
cf light fell upon the earth. 

The earth was thus better lighted than the sky, which pro- 
daces a particularly sinister effect, and the hill, whose contour 
was poor and mean, was outlined vague and wan against the 
gloomy horizon. The whole effect was hideous, petty, lugubri- 
ous, and narrow. 

There was nothing in the field or on the hill except a deformed 
tree, which writhed and shivered a few paces distant from the 

This man was evidently very far from having those delicate 
habits of intelligence and spirit which render one sensible to the 
tnystefious aspects of things ; nevertheless, there was something 
in that sky, in that hill, in that plain, in that tree, which was 
lo profoundly desolate, that after a moment of immobility and 
I every he turned back abruptly. There are instants when 
nature seems hostile. 

He retraced his steps; the gates of D. were closed. D., 
which had sustained sieges during the wars of religion, was 
jitill suiTounded in 1815 by ancient walls flanked by square 
towers which have been demolished since. He passed through a 
breach and entered the town again. 

It might have been eight o'clock in the evening. As he was 
not acquainted with the streets, he recommenced his walk at 

In this way he came to the prefecture, then to the seminary. 
As he passed through the Cathedral Square, he shook his fist 
at the church. 

At the corner of this square there is a printing establishment. 
It is there that the proclamations of the Emperor and of thft 
Imperial Guard to the army, brought from the Island of Elba 
and dictated by Napoleon himself, were printed for the first 

Worn out with fatigue, and no longer entertaining any hope, 
he lay down on a stone bench which stands at the doorway of 
this printing oflSce. 

At that moment an old woman came out of the church. She 
saw the man stretched out in the shadow. *'What are you 
loing there, my friend?" said she. 

He answered harshly and angrily: ''As you see, my good 
woman, I am sleeping." The good woman, who was w^H 
worthy the name, in fact, was the Marquise de R. 

*' On this bench ? " she went on. 


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** I have had a mattress of wood for nineteen yean^" saki 
the man ; ^^ to-day I have a mattress of stone." 

♦* You have been a soldier?" 

** Yes, my good woman, a soldier/* 

** Why do you not go to the inn?'* 

" Beeanse I have no money." 

*^ Alas ! " said Madame de R., ^^ I have only four soos In mj 

" Give it to me all the same." 

The man took the four sous. Madame de R. continued: 
*^ You cannot obtain lodgings in an inn for so small a sum. 
But have you tried? It is imi)08sible for you to pass the night 
thus. You are cold and hungry, no doubt. Some one might 
have given you a lodging out of charity/* 

** I have knocked at all doors." 


" I have been driven away everywhere.** 

The " good woman " touched the man's arm, and pointed ont 
to him on the other side of the street a small, low house, which 
Btood beside the Bishop's palace. 

** You have knocked at all doors?'* 


** Have you knocked at that one?** 


** Knock there.** 

n. — Prudence Counselled to Wisdom. 

That evening, the Bishop of D., after his promenade through 
the town, remained sluit up rather late in his room. He was 
busy over a great work on Duties^ which was never completed^ 
unfortunately. He was carefulh' compiling everything that the 
Fathere and the doctors have said on this important subject. 
His book was divided into two parts : firstly, the duties of all ; 
secondly, the duties of each individual, according to the class 
to which he belongs. The duties of all are the great duties. 
There are four of these. Saint Matthew points them out: 
duties towards God {Matt, vi.) ; duties towards one's self 
{Matt, V. 29, 30) ; duties towards one's neiglibor {Matt. vii. 
12) ; duties towards animals {Matt. vi. 20, 25). As for the 
other duties the Bisiiop found them pointed out and prescribed 
elsewhere : to sovereigns and subjects, in the Epistle to the 
Romans ; to magistrates, to wives, to mothers, to young men« 


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hy Saint Peter ; to husbands, fathers, children and servants, in 
the Epistle to the Ephesians ; to the faithful, in the ïîpistle to 
the HeT»rttW8 ; to virgins, in the Epistle to the Corinthians. 
Out of all these precepts he was laboriously constructing a 
harmonious whole, which he desired to present to souls. 

At eight o'clock he was still at work, writing with a good 
deal of inconvenience upon little squares of paper, witii a big 
book open on his keees, when Madame Magloire entered, 
according to her wont, to get the silver-ware from the cupboard 
near his bed. A moment later, the Bishop, knowing that the 
table was set, and that his sister was probably waiting for him, 
shut his book, rose from his table, and entered the dining-room. 

The dining-room was an oblong apartment, with a fireplace, 
which had a door opening on the street (as we have said) , and 
a window opening on the garden. 

Madame Magloire was, in fact, just putting the last touches 
to the table. 

As she performed this service, she was conversing with 
Mademoiselle Baptistine. 

A lamp stood on the table ; the table was near the fireplace. 
A wood fire was burning there. 

One can easily picture to one's self these two women, both of 
whom were over sixty years of age. Madame Magloire small, 
plump, vivacious; Mademoiselle Baptistine gentle, slender, 
frail, somewhat taller than her brother, dressed in a gown of 
puce-colored silk, of the fashion of 1806, which she had pur- 
chased at that date in Paris, and which had lasted ever since. 
To borrow vulgar phrases, which possess the merit of giving 
utterance in a single word to an idea which a whole page would 
hardly sufliice to express, Madame Magloire had the air of a 
pectsayity and Mademoiselle Baptistine that of a lady, Madame 
Magloire wore a white quilted cap, a gold Jeannette cross on a 
velvet ribbon upon her neck, the only bit of feminine jewelry 
that there was in the house, a very white fichu puffing out from 
a gown of coarse black woollen stuff, with large, short sleeves, 
an apron of cotton cloth in red and green checks, knotted round 
the waist with a green ribbon, with a stomacher of the same 
attached by two pins at the upper corners, coarse shoes on her 
feet, and yellow stockings, like the women of Marseilles. 
Mademoiselle Baptistine's gown was cut on the patterns of 180G, 
with a short waist, a narrow, sheath-like skirt, puffed sleeves, 
with flaps and buttons. She concealed her gray hair under a 
frizzed wig known as the bnbt/ wig. Madame Magloire had an 
intelligent, vivacioas, and kindly air ; the two corners of her 


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mouth unequally raised, and her upper lip, which was iarget 
than tlie lower, imparted to her a rather crabbed and imperious 
look. So long as Monseigneur held his peace, she talked tu 
him resolutely with a mixture of respect and freedom ; but »6 
soon as Monseigneur began to speak, as we have seen, she 
obeyed passivel}' like her mistress. Mademoiselle Baptistine 
did not even speak. She confined herself to obeying and pleas- 
ing him. She had never been pretty, even when she was 
young ; she had large, blue, prominent eyes, and a long arched 
nose ; but her whole visage, her whole person, breathed forth an 
ineffable goodness, as we stated in the beginning. She ha'l 
always been predestined to gentleness; but faith, charity, 
hope, those' three virtues which mildly warm the soul, had 
gradually elevated that gentleness to sanctity. Nature ha 1 
made her a lamb, religion had made her an angel. Poor 
sainted virgin ! Sweet memory which has vanished ! 

* Mademoiselle Baptistine has so often narrated what passe i 
at the episcopal residence that evening, that there are man f 
people now living wiio still recall the most minute details. 

At the moment when the Bishop entered, Madame Magloire 
was talking with considerable vivacity. She was haranguin;^ 
Mademoiselle Baptistine on a subject which was familiar to her 
and to which the Bishop was also accustomed. The questic^a 
concerned the lock u^wn the entrance door. 

It appears that while procuring some provisions for supper , 
Madame Magloire had heard things in divers places. People 
had spoken of a prowler of evil appearance ; a suspicious vaga- 
bond had arrived who must be somewhere about the town, and 
those who should take it into their heads to return home late 
that night might be subjected to unpleasant encounters. The 
police was very badly organized, moreover, because there was 
no love lost between the Prefect and the Mayor, who sought to 
injure each other by making things happen. It behooved wise 
p(H)ple to play the part of their own police, and to guard them- 
selves well, and care must be taken to duly close, bar, and 
barricade their houses, and to fasten the doors well, 

Madame Magloire emphasized these last words ; but the 
Bisiiop had just come from his room, where it was rather cold. 
He seated himself in front of the fire, and warmed himself, and 
tiien fell to thinking of other things. He did not take up the 
remark dropped with design by Madame Magloire. She 
repoatert it. Then Mademoiselle Baptistine, desirous of sat- 
isfving Madame Magloire without displeasing her brother, veu' 
tured to say timidly : — 

Digitized by CjOOQ IC 


•* Did you hear what Madame Magloire is saying, brother?" 

'' 1 have heard something of it in a vague way,*' replied the 
Bishop. Then half-turning in his chair, placing his hands on 
his knees, and raising towards the old servant woman his cor- 
dial face, which so easily grew joyous, and which was illumi- 
nated from below by the firelight, — " Come, what is the 
matter? What is the matter? Are we in any great danger?" 

Then Madame Magloire began the whole story afresh, exag- 
gerating it a little without being aware of the fact. It appeared 
that a Bohemian, a bare-footed vagabond, a sort of dangerous 
mjudicant, was at that moment in the town. He had presented 
himself at Jacquin Labarre's to obtain lodgings, but the latter 
had not been willing to take him in. He had been seen to 
arrive by the way of the boulevard Gassendi and roam about 
the streets in the gloaming. A gallows-bird with a terrible 

" ReaDy ! " said the Bishop. 

This willingness to interrogate encouraged Madame Magloire ; 
it seemed to her to indicate that the Bishop was on the point of 
becoming alarmed ; she pursued triumphantly : — 

'' Yes, Monseigneur. That is how it is. There will be some 
sort of catastrophe in this town to-night. Every one says so. 
And withal, the police is so badly regulated" (a useful repeti' 
tion). ^^ The idea of living in a mountainous country, and not 
even having lights in the streets at night! One goes out. 
Black as ovens, indeed ! And I say. Monseigneur, and Made- 
moiselle there says with me — " 

'* I/* interrupted his sister, " say nothing. What my brother 
does is well done." 

Madame Magloire continued as though there had been no 
protest : — 

^^ We say that this house is not safe at all ; that if Monseig 
near will permit, I will go and tell Paulin Musebois, the lock- 
smith, to come and replace the ancient locks on the doors ; wc 
have them, and it is only the work of a moment ; for I say that 
nothing is more terrible than a door which can be opened frorp 
the outside with a latch by the first passer-by ; and I 
say that we need bolts. Monseigneur, if only for this night ; 
moreover. Monseigneur has the habit of always saying ' come 
in ' ; and besides, even in the middle of the night, O mon Dieu ! 
there is no need to ask permission." 

. At that moment there came a tolerably violent knoek on the 

*'*' Ck>me in," said the Bishop. 


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m. — The Heroism or Fassitb Obédience. 

The door opened. 

It opened wide with a rapid movement, as though some one 
had given it an energetic and resolute push. 

A man entered. 

We already know the man. It was the wayfarer whom we 
have seen wandering about in search of shelter. 

He entered, advanced a step, and halted, leaving the door 
open behind him. He had his knapsack on his shoulders, bis 
cudgel in his hand, a rough, audacious, weary, and violent 
expression in his eyes. The fire on the hearth lighted him up. 
He was hideous. It was a sinister apparition. 

Madame Magloire had not even the strength to utter a cry. 
She trembled, and stood with her mouth wide open. 

Mademoiselle Baptistine turned round, beheld the man ca- 
tering, and half started up in terror ; then, turning her head by 
degrees towards the fireplace again, she- began to observe her 
brother, and her face became once more prof oundl}"^ calm and 

The Bishop fixed a tranquil eye on the man. 

As he opened his mouth, doubtless to ask the new-comer what 
he desired, the man rested both hands on his staff, directed his 
gaze in turn at the old man and the two women, and without 
waiting for the Bishop to speak, he said, in a loud voice : — 

" See here. My name is Jean Valjean. I am a convict from 
the galleys. I have passed nineteen years in the galleys. I 
was liberated four days ago, and am on my waj' to Pontarlier, 
which is my destination. I have been walking for four days 
since I loft Toulon. I have travelled a dozen leagues to-day on 
foot. This evening, when I arrived in these parts, I went to 
an inn, and they turned me out, because of my yellow passport, 
which I had shown at the town-hall. I had to do it. I went to 
an inn. . They said to me, * Be off,* at both places. No one 
would take me. I went to the prison ; the jailer would not ad- 
mit me. I went into a dog's kennel ; the dog bit me and chased 
me off, as though he had been a man. One would have said 
that he knew who I was. I went into the fields, intending to 
sleep in the open air, beneath the stars. There were no stars. 
I thought that it was going to rain, and I re-entered the town, 
to seek the recess of a doorway. Yonder, in the square, I 
meant to sleep on a stone bench. A good woman pointed out 
your house to me, and said to me, ^ Knock there I ' I have 


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knocked. What is this place ? Do 3'ou keep an inn ? I have 
money — savings. One hundred and nine francs fifteen sous» 
which I earned in the galleys by my labor, in the course of 
nineteen years. I will pay. What is that to me? I have 
money. I am very weary ; twelve leagues on foot ; I am verj 
hungry. Are you willing that I should remain ? " 

'* Madame Magloire," said the Bishop, *' you will set another 

The man advanced three paces, and approached the lamp 
which was on the table. '^ Stop," he resumed, as though he 
had not quite understood; ^Mhat's not it. Did you hear? I 
am a galley-slave ; a convict. I come from the galle3's." He 
drew from his pocket a large sheet of yellow paper, which he 
unfolded. " Here's my passport. Yellow, as you see. This 
serves to expel me from every place where I go. Will you 
read it? I know how to read. I learned in the galleys. There 
is a school there for those who choose to learn. Hold, this is 
what they put on this passport: ^Jean Valjean, discharged 
convict, native of — that is nothing to you — 'has been nine- 
teen years in the galleys: five years for house-breaking and 
burglar}' ; fourteen years for having attempted to escape on 
four occasions. He is a very dangerous man.' There ! Every- 
one has cast me out. Are you willing to receive me ? Is this 
an inn ? Will you give me something to eat and a bed ? Have 
you a stable ? " 

^'Madame Magloire," said the Bishop, ''you will put white 
sheets on the bed in the alcove." We have already explained 
the character of the two women's obedience. 

Madame Magloire retired to execute these orders. 

The Bishop turned to the man. 

" Sit down, sir, and warm yourself. We are going to sup in 
a few moments, and your bed will be prepared while you are 

At this point the man suddenly comprehended. The expres- 
sion of his face, np to that time sombre and harsh, bore the 
imprint of stupefaction, of doubt, of joy, and became extraordi- 
usry. He began stammering like a crazy man : — 

"Really? What! You will keep me? You do not drive 
me forth ? A convict ! You call me sir I You do not address 
me as thauf ' Get out of here, you dog 1 ' is what people always 
say to me. I felt sure that you would expel me, so I told yon 
at once who I am. Oh, what a good woman that was who di- 
rected me hither ! I am going to sup ! A bed with a mattress 
and sheets, like the rest of the world ! a bed I Tt is ninet«ieu 


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years since I have slept in a bed ! You actually do not want 
me to go ! You are good people. Besides, I liave money. I 
will pay well. Pardon me, monsieur the inn-keeper, but what 
is your name ? I will pay anything you ask. You are a fine 
man. You are an inn-keeper, are you not?" 

" I am," replied the Bishop, " a priest who lives here." 

" A priest ! " said the man. *'0h, what a fine priest ! Then 
you are not going to demand any money of mc ? You are the 
curé, are you not? the curé of this big church? Well! I am a 
fool, truly ! I had not perceived your skull-cap." 

As he spoke, he deposited his knapsack and his cudgel in a 
corner, replaced his passport in his pocket, and seated himself. 
Mademoiselle Baptistine gazed mildly at him. He continued : 

" You are humane. Monsieur le Curé ; you have not scorned 
me. A good priest is a very good thing. Then you do not re- 
quire me to pay ? " 

"No," said the Bishop; "keep your money. How mnch 
have you? Did you not tell me one hundred and nine francs? ** 

" And fifteen sous," added the man. 

"One hundred and nine francs fifteen sous. And bow long 
did it take you to earn that?" 

" Nineteen years." 

" Nineteen years ! " 

The Bishop sighed deeply. 

The man continued: " I have still the whole of my money. 
In four da3's I have spent only twenty-five sous, which I earned 
by helping unload scToe wagons at Grasse. Since you are an 
abbé, I will tell you that we had a chaplain in the galleys. 
And one day I saw a bishop there. Monseigneur is what they 
call him. He was the Bishop of Majore at Marseilles. He is 
the curé who rules over the other curés, you understand. Par- 
don me, I say that very badly ; but it is such a far-off thing to 
me ! You understand what we are ! He said mass in the mid- 
dle of the galleys, on an altar. He had a pointed thing, made 
of gold, on his head ; it glittered in the bright light of midday. 
We were all ranged in lines on the three sides, with cannons 
with lighted matches facing us. We could not see very well. 
He spoke ; but he was too far off, and we did not hear. That 
is what a bishop is like." 

While he was speaking, the Bishop had gone and shut the 
door, which had remained wide open. 

Madame Magloire returned. She brought a silver fork and 
spoon, which slie placed on the table. 

" Madame Magloire," said the Bishop, " place those things 


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as near the fire as possible." And turning to his guest : " The 
night wind is hai-sh on the Alps. You must be cold, sir." 

£ach time that he uttered the word sir, in his voice winch was 
so gently grave and polished, the man's face lighted up. Mon^ 
sieur to a convict is like a glass of water to one of the ship 
wrecked of the Medusa. Ignominy thirsts for consideration. 

'* This lamp gives a very bad light," said the Bishop. 

Madame Magloire understood him, and went to get the two 
silver candlesticks from the chimney-piece in Monseigneur'e 
bed-chamber, and placed them, lighted, on the table. 

" Monsieur le Curé," said the man, " you are good ; you do 
not despise me. You receive me into your house. You light 
yonr candles for me. Yet I have not concealed fixjm you 
whence I come and that I am an unfortunate man." 

The 3ishop, who was sitting close to him, gently touched his 
hand. " You could not help telling me who you were. This 
is not my house ; it is the house of Jesus Christ. This door 
does not demand of him who enters whether he has a name, but 
whether he has a grief. You suffer, you are hungry and thirsty ; 
you are welcome. And do not thank me ; do not say that I 
receive 3'ou in my house. No one is at home here, except the 
man who needs a refuge. I say to jou, who are passing by, 
that you are much more at home here than I am myself. Every- 
thing here is 3-ours. What need have I to know your name ? 
Besides, before you told me, you had one which I knew." 

The man opened his eyes in astonishment. 

'* Really? You knew what I was called? " 

" Yes," replied the Bishop, " you are called my brother." 

" Stop, Monsieur le Curé ! " exclaimed the man. " I was very 
hungry when I entered here ; but you are so good, that I no 
longer know what has happened to me." 

The Bishop looked at him, and said, — 

" You have suffered much?" 

"Ob, the red coat, the ball on the ankle, a plank to sleep on, 
heat, cold, toil, the convicts, the thrashings, the double chain 
for nothing, the cell for one word ; even sick and in bed, still 
the chain ! Dogs, dogs are happier ! Nineteen years ! I am 
fortv-six. Now, there is the yellow passport. That is what it 
is like." 

"Yes," resumed the Bishop, "you have come from a very 
sad place. Listen. There will be more joy in heaven over the 
tear-bathed face of a repentant sinner than over the white robes 
if a hundred just men. Tf you emerge from that sad place with 
thoughts of hatred and of wrath against mankind, you are de- 


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BerviDg of pity ; it you emerge with thoughts of good-wiL éUM) 
of peace, you are more wortliy than any one of us." 

In the meantime, Madame M:i<j;Ioire had 8er\'ed supper : soap. 
made with water, oil, bread, and salt ; a little bacon, a bit of 
mutton, figs, a fresh cheese, and a large loaf of rye bread. She 
had, of her own accord, added to the Bishop's ordinary fare a 
bottle of his old Mauves wine. 

The Bishop's face at once assumed that expression of gayetj 
which is peculiar to hospitable natures, *' To table ! ** he cried 
vivaciously. As was his custom when a stranger supped with 
him, he made the man sit on his right. Mademoiselle Baptis- 
tine, perfectly ixîaceable and natural, took her seat at his left. 

The Bishop asked a blessing ; then helped the soup himself, 
according to his custom. The man began to eat with avidity. 

All at once the Bishop said: "It strikes me there is some- 
thing missing on this table." 

Madame Magloire had, in fact, only placed the three sets of 
forks and siK)on8 which were absolutely necessary. Now, it 
was the usage of the house, when the Bishop had any one to 
supper, to lay out the whole six sets of silver on the table-cloth 
— an innocent ostentation. This graceful semblance of luxury 
was a kind of chiUrs i)lay, which was full of charm in that gen- 
tle and severe household, which raised poverty into dignity. 

Madame Magloire understood the remark, went out without 
saying a word, and a moment later the three sets of silver forks 
and spoons demanded by the Bishop were glittering upon the 
clotli, symmetrically arranged before the three persons seated 
at the table. 

IV. —Details concerning the Cheese-Daibiss op Pontar 


Now, in order to convey an idea of what passed at that table, 
we cannot do l)etter than to transcribe here a passage from one 
of Mademoiselle Baptistine's letters to Madame Boischevron, 
wherein the conversation between the convict and the Bishop is 
described with ingenuous minuteness. 

"... This man paid no attention to any one. He ate with 
the voracity of a starving man. However, after supper he said : 

" ' Monsieur le Curé of the good God, all this is far too good 
for me ; but I must say tiiat the carters who would not ^low 
me to eat with tliem keeu a better table than you do.' 


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** Between ourselves, the remark rather shocked me. My 
brother replied : — 

** ' They are inure fatigued than I.' 

** ' No/ returned the man, ' they have more money. You are 
poor ; I see tliat plainly. You cannot be even a curate. Are 
you really a curé? Ah, if the good God were but just, you cer« 
iainly ought to be a curé ! ' 

'* * The good God is more than just,' said my brother. 

*' A moment later he added : — 

" * Monsieur Jean Valjean, is it to Pontarlier that you are go 

'' * With my road marked out for me.' 

'' I think that is what the man said. Then he went on : — 

" *" I must be on my way by daybreak to-morrow. Travelling 
is hard. If the nights are cold, the days are hot.' 

*' * You are going to a good country,' said my brother. * Dur- 
ing the Revolution my family was ruined. I took refuge in 
Franche-Comté at first, and there I lived for some time by the 
toil of my hands. My will wras good. I found plenty to occupy 
me. One has only to choose. There are paper mills, tanneries, 
distilleries, oil factories, watch factories on a large scale, steel 
mills, copper works, twenty iron foundries at least, four of 
which, situated at Lods, at Châtillon, at Audincourt, and* at 
Beure, are tolerably large.' 

^*I think I am not mistaken in saying that those are the 
names which my brother mentioned. Then he interrupted him- 
self and addressed me : — 

^^ ^ Have we not some relatives in tliose parts, my dear sis- 

"I replied, — 

" ' We did have some ; among others, M. de Lucenet, who 
was captain of <he gates at Pontarlier under the old régime.' 

" ' Yes,* resumed ray brother; ' but in '93, one had no longer 
any relatives, one had only one's arms. I worked. They have, 
in the country of Pontarlier, whither you are going, Monsieur 
Valjean, a truly patriarchal and truly charming industry, my 
sister. It is their cheese-dairies, which they call fruitières.' 

" Then my brother, while urging the man to eat, explained 
to him, with great minuteness, what these fruitières of Pontar- 
lier were ; that they were divided into two classes : the big banis^ 
which belong to the rich, and where there are forty or fifty cows, 
which produce from seven to eight thousand cheeses each sum- 
mer, and the associated fruitières^ which belong to the poor ; 
tiiese are the peasants of mid-mountaia. ivho hold their cows w 


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comroon, and share the proceeds. * They engage the servicei 
of a cheese-maker, whom tliey call the (jrnrin; the grurin re» 
ceives the milk of the associates three times a day, and marks 
the quantity on a double tally. It is towards the end of April 
that the work of the cheese-dairies begins ; it is towards the 
middle of June that the cheese-makers drive their cows to the 

"The man recovered his animation as he ate. My brother 
made him drink that good Mauves wine, which he does not 
irink himself, because he says that wine is expensive. My 
brotiier imparted all these details with that easy gayety of his 
with which you are acquainted, interspersing his words with 
graceful attentions to me. He recurred frequently to that 
comfortable trade of grurin ^ as though he wished the man to 
understand, without advising him directly and harshly, that this 
would afford him a refug'e. One thing struck me. This man 
was what I have told you. Well, neither during supper, nor 
during the entire evening, did my brother utter a single word, 
witli the exception of a few woixls about Jesus when he entered, 
wliich could remind the man of what he was, nor of what my 
brotiier was. To all appearances, it was an occasion for preach- 
m^ him a little sermon, and of impressing the Bishop on the 
convict, so that a mark of the passage might remain behind. 
This might have appeared to any one else who had this unfortu« 
nate man in his hands to afford a chance to nourish his soul as 
well as his body, and to bestow upon him some reproach, sea- 
soned with moralizing and advice, or a little commiseration, with 
an exhortation to conduct himself better in the future. My 
brother did not even ask him from what country he came, nor 
what was his history. For in his history there is a fault, and 
my brother seemed to avoid everything which could remind \\\m 
of it. To such a point did he carry it, that at one time, when 
my brother was speaking of the mountaineers of Pontarlicr, wJio 
exercise a gentle labor near heaven^ and who^ he added, are hapjyy 
because they are innocent^ he stopped short, fearing lest in this 
remark there might have escaped him something which might 
wound the man. By dint of reflection, I think I have compre- 
hended what was passing in my brother's heart. He was think- 
ing, no doubt, that this man, whose name is Jean Valjean, had 
his misfortune only too vividly present in his mind ; that the 
best thing was to divert him from it, and to make him believe, 
if only momentarily, that he was a person like any other, by 
treating him just in his ordinary way. Is not this, indeed, to 
understand charity well ? Is there /lot, dear Madame, some 


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thing truly evangelical in this delicaej which abstains from ser 
luon, from moralizing, from allusions? and is it not the truest 
pity, when a man has a sore point, not to touch it at all? It 
has seemed to me that this might have been my brother's pri- 
vate thought. In any case, what I can say is that, if he enter 
tained all these ideas, he gave no sign of them ; from beginning 
to end, even to me he was the same as he is every evening, and 
be supped with this Jean Valjean with the same air and in the 
same manner in which he would have supped with M. Gédéon 
'e Prévost, or with the curate of the parish. 

^^ Towards the end, when we had reached the figd, there 
came a knock at the door. It was Mother Gerbaud, with her 
little one in her arms. My brother kissed the child on the 
brow, and borrowed fifteen sous which I had about me to give 
to Mother Gerbaud. The man was not paying much heed to 
anything then. He was no longer talking, and he seemed very 
much fatigued. After poor old Gerbaud had taken her depart- 
ure, my brothsr said grace ; then he turned to the man and 
said to him, ' You must be in great need of your bed.' Madame 
Magloire cleared the table very promptly. I understood that 
we must retire, in order to allow this traveller to go to sleep, 
and we both went up stairs. Nevertheless, I sent Madame 
Magloire down a moment later, to carry to the man's bed a goat 
ekin from the Black Forest, which was in my room. The nights 
are frigid, and that keeps one warm. It is a pity that this skin 
is old ; all the hair is falling out. IVIy })iother bought it while 
he was in Germany, at Tottlingen, near the sources of tlie Dan- 
ube, as well as the little ivory-handled knife which I use at table. 

'^ Madame Magloire returned immediately. We said our 
prayers in the drawing-room, where we hang up the linen, and 
then we each retired to our own chambers, without saying a 
word to each other." 

V. — Tranquillitt. 

After bidding his sister good night, Monseigneur Bienvenu 
yiok one of the two silver candlesticks from the table, handed 
Che other to his guest, and said to him, — 

'' Monsieur, I will conduct you to your room." 

The man followed him. 

As might have been observed from what has been said above^ 
the house was so arranged that in order to pass into the oratory 
where the alcove was situated, or to get out of it, it was neces- 
sary to traverse the Bishop's bedroom. 


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At the moment when he was crossing this apartment, 
Madame Magloire was putting away the silverware in the eu|>- 
board near the head of the bed. This was her last care every 
evening before she went to bed. 

The Bishop installed his guest in the alcove. A fresh white 
bed had been prepared there. The man set the candle down 
on a small table. 

**Well," said the Bishop, "may you pass a good night. 
To-morrow morning, before you set out, you shall drink a cup 
of warm milk from our cows." 

** Thanks, Monsieur T Abbé," said the man. 

Hardly had he pronounced these words full of peace, when 
ail of a sudden, and without transition, he made a strange 
movement, which would iiave frozen the two sainted women 
with horror, had they witnessed it. Even at this day it is dilK- 
cult for us to explain what inspired him at that moment. Did 
he intend to convey a warning or to throw out a menace? 
Was he simply obeying a sort of instinctive impulse which was 
obscure even to himself? He turned abruptly to the old man, 
folded his arms, and bending upon his host a savage gaze, he 
exclaimed in a hoarse voice : — 

'* Ah ! really ! You lodge me in your house, close to your- 
self , like this ?" 

He broke off, and added with a laugh in which there lurked 
something monstrous : — 

" Have you really reflected well? How do you know that I 
Dave not been an assassin ? " 

The Bishop replied : — 

** That is the concern of the good God." 

Then gravely, and moving his lips like one who is praying or 
talking to himself, he raised two Angers of his right band and 
bestowed his benediction on tiie man, who did not bow, and 
without turning his head or looking behind him, he returned to 
his bedroom. 

When the alcove was in use, a large serge curtain drawn 
from wall to wall concealed the altar. The Bishop knelt 
before this curtain as he passed and said a brief prayer. A 
moment later he was in his garden, walking, meditating, con- 
templating, his heart and soul wholly absorbed in those grand 
and mysterious things which God shows at night to the eyes 
which remain open. 

As for the man, he was actually so fatigued that he did not 
even profit by the nice white sheets. Snuffing out his candle 
with bis nostrils after the manner of convicts, he dropped, aV 


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dressed as he was, upon the bed, where he immediately fell into 
a profound sleep. 

Midnight struck as the Bishop returned from his garden to 
his apartment. 

A few minutes later all were asleep in the little house. 

VI. — Jean Valjean. 

Towards the middle of the night, Jean Valjean woke. 

Jean Valjenn came from a poor peasant family of Brie. He 
%ad not learned to read in his childhood. When he reached 
man's estate, he became a tree-pruner at Faverolles. His 
mother was named Jeanne Mathieu ; his father was called Jean 
Valjean or V4ajean, probaT)ly a sobriquet, and a contraction of 
voilà JeaUj "here's Jean." 

Jean Valjean was of that thoughtful but not gloomy disposi- 
tion which constitutes the peculiarity of affectionate natures. 
On the whole, however, there was something decidedly sluggish 
and insignificant about Jean Valjean, in appearance, at least. 
He had lost his father and mother at a very earh' age. His 
mother had died of a milk fever, which had not been properly 
attended to. His father, a tree-pruner, like himself, had been 
killed by a fall from a tree. All that remained to Jean Val- 
jean was a sister older than himself, — a widow with seven chil- 
dren, boys and girls. This sister had brought up Jean Valjean, 
and so long as she had a husband she lodged and fed her young 

The husband died. The eldest of the seven children was 
eight jears old. The youngest, one. 

Jean Valjean had just attained his twenty-fifth year. He 
took the father's place, and, in his turn, supported the sister 
who had brought him up. This was done simply as a duty and 
even a little churlishly on the part of Jean Valjean. Thus Ills 
youth had been spent in rude and ill-paid toil. He had never 
known a "kind woman friend" in his native parts. He had 
not had the time to fall in love. 

He returned at night weary, and ate his broth without utter- 
mg a word. His sister, mother Jeanne, often took the best 
part of his repast from his bowl while he was eating, — a bit of 
meat, a slice of bacon, the heart of the cabbage, — to give to 
one of her children. As he went on eating, with his head bent 
over the table and almost into his soup, his long hair falling 
about his bowl and concealing his eyes, he had the air of per 


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oeiving nothing and allowing it. There was at FavePjUes, not 
far from tlie Val jean thatched cottage, on the other side of the» 
lane, a farmer's wife named Marie-Claude ; the Valjean chil- 
dren, habitually famished, sometimes went to borrow from 
Marie-Claude a pint of milk, in their mother's name, which 
they drank behind a hedge or in some alley corner, snatching ) 
the jug from each other so hastily that the little girls spilled it . 
on their aprons and down their necks. If their mother had 
known of this marauding, she would have punished the delin- 
quents severely. Jean Valjean gruffly and grumblingly paid 
Marie-Claude for the pint of milk behind their mother's back, 
and the children were not punished. 

In pruning season he earned eighteen sous a day ; then he 
hired out as a hay-maker, as laborer, as neat-herd on a farm, 
as a drudge. He did whatever he could. His lister workecl 
also, but what could she do with seven little children? It wa.'a 
a sad group enveloped in misery, which was being gradually 
annihilated. A very hard winter came. Jean had no work. 
The family had no bread. No bread literally. Seven children \ 

One Sunday evening, Maubert Tsabeau, the baker on the 
Church Square at Faverolles, was preparing to go to bed, whei> 
he heard a violent blow on the grated front of his shop. He 
arrived in time to see an arm passed through a hole made by 
a blow from a fist, through the grating and the glass. Th« 
arm seized a loaf of bread and carried it off. Isabeau ran out 
in haste ; the robber fled at the full speed of his legs. Isabeau 
ran after him and stopped him. The thief had flung away the 
loaf, but his arm was still bleeding. It was Jean Valjean. 

This took place in 1795. Jean Valjean was taken before the 
tribunals of the time for theft and breaking a ad entering an 
inhabited house at night. He had a gun . which he used 
better than any one else in the world, he was a bit of a 
poacher, and this injured his case. There exists a legitimate 
prejudice against i)oachers. The poacher, like the smuggler, 
smacks too strongly of the brigand. Nevertheless, we will 
remark cursorily, there is still an abyss between these races of 
men and the hideous assassin of the towns. The poacher lives 
in the forest, the smuggler lives in the mountains or on the sea 
The cities make ferocious men because they make corrupt men 
The mountain, the sea, the forest, make savage men ; they 
develop the fierce side, but often without destroying the 
humane side. 

Jean Valjean was pronounced guilty. The terms of the Cod* 
were explicit. There occur formidable hours in our civilization • 


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there are moments when the penal laws decree a shipwreck. 
What an ominous minate is that in which society draws back 
and consummates the irreparable abandonment of a sentient 
l)eiug! Jean Valjean was condemned to five years in the 

On the 22d of April, 1796, the victory of Montenotte, won 
by the general-in-chief of the army of Italy, whom the mes- 
sage of the Directory to the Five Hundred, of the 2d of Flo- 
réal, year IV., calls Buona-Parte, was announced in Paris; on 
that same day a great gang of galley-slaves was put in chains 
at Bicetre. Jean Valjean formed a part of that gang. An 
old turnkey of the prison, who is now nearly eighty years old, 
still recalls perfectly that unfortunate wretch who was chained 
to the end of the fourth line, in the north angle of the court- 
yard. He was seated on the ground like the others. He did 
not seem to comprehend his position, except that it was horri- 
ble. It is probable that he, also, was disentangling from amid 
the vague ideas of a poor man, ignorant of everything, some- 
thing excessive. While the holt of his iron collar was being 
riveted behind his head with heavy blows from the hammer, he 
wept, his tears stifled him, they impeded his speech ; he only 
manned to say from time to time, '' I was a tree-pruner at 
FaveroUcs." Then still sobbing, he raised his right hand and 
lowered it gradually seven times, as though he were touching 
in succession seven heads of unequal heights, and from this 
gesture it was divined that the thing which he had done, what- 
ever it was, he had done for the sake of clothing and nourishing 
seven little children. 

He set out for Toulon. He arrived there, after a journey of 
twenty-seven days, on a cart, with a chain on his neck. At 
Toulon he was clothed in the red cassock. All that had consti- 
tuted his life, even to his name, was effaced ; he was no longer 
even Jean Valjean ; he was number 24,601. What became of 
his sister? What became of the seven children? Who troubled 
himself about that? What becomes of the handful of leaves 
from the young tree which is sawed off at the root ? 

It is alwa3*s the same story. These poor living beings, these 
'.reatures of God, henceforth without support, without guide, 
without refuge, wandered away at random, — who even knows? 
• -each in his own direction perhaps, and little by little buried 
themselves in that cold mist which engulfs solitary destinies; 
gloom V shades, into which disappear in succession so many 
unlucky heads, in the sombre march of the human race. They 
quitted the country. The clock-tower of what had been their 


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village forgot them ; the boundary line of what had been their 
field forgot them ; after a few years' residence in the galleys, 
Jean Val jean himself forgot them. In that heart, where there 
had been a wound, there was a scar. That is ail. Only once, 
during all the time which he spent at Toulon, did he hear his 
sister mentioned. This happened, I think, towards the end of 
the fourth year of his captivity. I know not through what 
channels the news reached him. Some one who had known thern 
in their own country had seen his sister. She was in Paris. She 
lived in a poor street near Saint-Sulpice, in the Rue du Giudre. 
She had with her only one child, a little boy, the youngest. 
Where were the other six ? Perhaps she did not know herself. 
Every morning she went to a printing ollice, No. 3 Rue du Sabot, 
where she was a folder and stitcher. She was obliged to be 
there at six o'clock in the morning — long before daylight in 
winter. In the same building with the printing office there was 
a school, and to this school she took her little boy, who was 
seven years old. But as she entered the printing office at six, 
and the school only opened at seven, the child had to wait in the 
courtyard, for the school to open, for an hour — one hour of a 
winter night in the open air ! They would not allow the child to 
come into the printing office, because he was in the way, they 
said. When the workmen passed in the morning, they beheld 
this poor little being seated on the pavement, overcome with 
drowsiness, and often fast asleep in the shadow, crouched down 
and doubled up over his basket. When it rained, an old woman, 
the portress, took pity on him ; she took him into her den, where 
there was a pallet, a spinning-wheel, and two wooden chairs, 
and the little one slumbered in a corner, pressing himself close 
to the cat that he might suffer less from cold. At seven 
o'clock the school opened, and he entered. That is what was 
told to Jean Val jean. 

They talked to him about it for one day ; it was a moment, a 
flash, as though a window had suddenly been opened upon the 
destiny of those beings whom he had loved; then all closed 
again. He heard nothing more forever. Nothing fiom them 
ever reached him again ; he never beheld them ; he never met 
them again ; and in the continuation of this mournful history 
they will not be met with any more. 

Towards the end of this fourth year Jean Val jean's turn to 
escape arrived. His comrades assisted him, as is the custom in 
that sad place. He escaped. He wandered fur two clays in the 
fields at liberty, if being at liberty is to be hunted, to turn the 
head every instant, to quake at the slightest noise, to be afraid 


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of everything, — of a smoking roof, of a passing man, of a 
barking clog, of a galloping horse, of a striking clock, of the 
day because one can see, of the niglit because one cannot see, 
of the highway, of the path, of a bush, of sleep. On tiie even- 
ing of the second day he was captured. He had neither eaten 
nor slept for thirty -six hours. The maritime tribunal con- 
demned him, for this crime, to a prolongation of his term for 
three years, which made eight years. In the sixth year his 
turn to escape occurred again ; he availed himself of it, but 
conld not accomplish his flight fully. He was missing at roll- 
call. The cannon were fired, and at night the patrol found him 
hidden under the keel of a vessel in process of construction ; he 
resisted the galley guards who seized him. Kscaix! and rebel- 
lion. This case, provided for by a special code, was punished 
by an addition of five years, two of them in the double chain. 
Thirteen years. In the tenth 3'ear his turn came round again ; 
he again profited by it ; he succeeded no better. Three years 
for this fresh attempt. Sixteen years. Fhially, I think it was 
during his thirteenth year, he made a last attempt, and only suc- 
ceeded in getting retaken at the end of four hours of absence. 
Tiiree years for those four hours. Nineteen years. In October, 
1815, he was released ; he had entered there in 1796, for having 
broken a i)ane of glass and taken a loaf of bread. 

Room for a brief parenthesis. This is the second time, dur- 
ing his studies on the penal question and damnation by law, 
that tlie author of this book has come across tlie theft of a loaf 
of bread as the point of departure for the disaster of a destiny. 
Claude Guaux had stolen a loaf; Jean Valjean had stolen a 
loaf. English statistics prove the fact that four thefts out of 
five in Ix>ndon have hunger for their immediate cause. 

Jean Valjean had entered the galleys sobbing and shuddering; 
he emerged impassive. He had entered in despair ; he emerged 

What bad taken place in that soul? 

VII. — The Interior op Despair. 

Let us try to say it. 

It is necessary that society should look at these things, be- 
cause it is itself which creates them. 

He was, as we have said, an ignorant man, but he was not a 
fool. The light of nature was ignited in him. Unhappiness, 
which also possesses a clearness of vision of its own, augmented 
the small amount of daylight which existed in this mind. Be* 


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neath the cudgel, beneath the chain, in the cell, in hardship^ 
beneath the burning sun of the galleys, upon the plank bed o( 
the convict, he withdrew into his own consciousness and medi* 

He sonstituted himself the tribunal. 

He began by putting himself on trial. 

He recognized the fact that he was not an innocent man au« 
justly punished. He admitted that he had committed an ex 
treme and blamewortliy act ; that that loaf of bread would prob 
ably not have been refused to him had he asked for it ; that, in 
any case, it would have been better to wait until he could get 
it through compassion or through work ; that it is not an unan* 
swerable argument to say, '' Can one wait when one is hungry? " 
That, in the first place, it is very rare for any one to die ot 
hunger, literally; and next, that, fortunately or unfortunately, 
man is so constituted that he can suffer long and much, both 
morally and physically, without jlying ; that it is therefore nee • 
essary to liave patience ; that that would even have been bette" 
for those ix)or little children ; that it had been an act of mad • 
ness for him, a miserable, unfortunate wretch, to take society 
at large violently by the collar, and to imagine that one can ea 
cape from misery through theft; that that is in any case ft 
poor door through which to escape from misery through which 
infamy enters ; in short, that he was in the wrong. 

Then he asked himself — 

Whether he had been the onlj' one in fault in his fatal his • 
tory. Whether it was not a serious thing, that he, a laborer, 
out of work, that he, an industrious man, should have lacked 
bread. And whether, the fault once committed and confesseil, 
the chastisement had not been ferocious and disproportioned. 
Whether there liad not been more abuse on the part of the law. 
In respect to the penalty, than there had been on tlie part of 
the culprit in respect to his fault. Whether there had not been 
an excess of weights in one balance of the scale, in the one 
which contains expiation. Whether the over-weight of the pen- 
alty was not equivalent to the annihilation of the crime, ami 
did not result in reversing the situation, of replacing tlie fauU 
of the delinquent by the fault of the repression, of converting* 
the guilty man into the victim, and the debtor into the creditor, 
and of ranging the law definitely on the side of the man who 
bad violated it. 

Whether this penalty, complicated by successiye aggravationR 
for attempts at escape, had not ended in becoming a sort of 
outrage perpetrated by the stronger upon the feebler, a crime o^ 


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society against the individual, a crime which was being com- 
mitted afresh every day, a crime which had lasted nineteen years. 

He asked himself whether human society could have the right 
to force its members to suffer equally in one case for its own 
unreasonable lack of foresight, and in the other case for its piti- 
less foresight; and to seize a poor man forever between a 
defect and an excess, a default of work and an excess of punish- 

Whether it was not outrageous for society to treat thus pre- 
cisely those of its members who were the least well endowed in 
the division of goods made by chance, and consequently the 
most deserving of consideration. 

These questions put and answered, he judged society and 
condemned it. 

He condemned it to his hatred. 

He made it responsible for the fate which he was suffering, 
and he said to himself that it might be that one day he should 
not hesitate to call it to account. He declared to himself that 
there was no equilibrium between the harm which he had caused 
and the harm which was being done to him ; he finally arrived 
at the conclusion that his punishment was not, in truth, unjust, 
but that it most assuredly was iniquitous. 

Anger may be both foolish and absurd ; one can be irritated 
wrongifully ; one is exasperated only when there is some show 
of right on one's side at bottom. Jean Valjean felt himself 

And besides, human society had done him nothing but harm *, 
he had never seen anything of it save that angry face which it 
calls Justice, and which it shows to those whom it strikes. 
Men had only touched him to bruise him. Eveiy contact with 
them had been a blow. Never, since his infancy, since the days 
of his mother, of his sister, had he ever encountered a friendl}^ 
word and a kindly glance. From suffering to suffering, he had 
gradually arrived at the conviction that life is a war ; and that 
in this war he was the conquered. He had no other weapon 
than his hate. He resolved to whet it in the galleys and to 
bear it away with him when he departed. 

There was at Toulon a school for the convicts, kept by the 
Ignorantin friars, where the most necessary branches were taught 
to those of the unfortunate men who had a mind for them. He 
was of the number who had a mind. He went to school at the 
nge of forty, and learned to read, to write, to cipher. He felt 
that to fortify his intelligence was to fortify his hate. In certain 
eases, edupation and enlightenment can serve to eke out evil. 


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This is a sad thing to say ; after having judged society, which 
had caused his unhappiness, he judged Provideuce, which had 
made society, and he condemned it also. 

Thus during nineteen years of torture and slavery, this soul 
mounted and at the same time fell. Light entered it on one 
side, and darkness on the other. 

Jean Val jean had not, as we have seen, an evil nature. He 
was still good when he arrived at the galleys. He there con- 
demned society, and felt that he was becoming wicked ; he there 
condemned Providence, and was conscious that he was becoming 

It is diiUcult not to indulge in meditation at this point. 

Does human nature thus change utterly and from top to bot- 
tom ? Can the man created good by God be rendered wicked 
by man ? Can the soul be completely made over by fate, and 
become evil, fate being evil? Can the heart become misshapen 
and contract incurable deformities and infirmities under the op- 
pression of a disproportionate unhappiness, as the vertebral 
column beneath too low a vault? Is there not in every human 
soul, was there not in the soul of Jean Val jean in particular, a 
first spark, a divine element, incorruptible in this world, immortal 
in the other, which good can develop, fan, ignite, and make to 
glow with splendor, and which evil can never wholly extinguish ? 

Grave and obscure questions, to the last of which every phys- 
iologist would probably have responded no, and that without 
hesitation, had he beheld at Toulon, during the hours of repose, 
which were for Jean Val jean hours of re very, this gloom}' galley- 
slave, seated with folded arms upon the bar of some capstan, 
with the end of his chain thrust into his pocket to prevent it< 
dragging, serious, silent, and thoughtful, a pariah of the laws 
which regarded the man with wrath, condemned by civilization, 
and regarding heaven with severity. 

Certainly, — and we make no attempt to dissimulate the fact, 
— the observing physiologist wouul have beheld an irremediable 
misery ; he would, perchance, have pitied this sick man, of the 
law's making ; but he would not have even essayed any tieat- 
ment ; he would have turned aside his gaze from the caverns of 
which he would have caught a glimpse within this soul, and, like 
Dante at the portals of hell, he would have effaced from this 
Existence the word which the finger of God has, nevertheless, 
inscribed upon the brow of every man, — hope. 

Was this state of his soul, which we have attempted to ana- 
lyze, as perfectly clear to Jean Valjean as we have tried to ren- 
der it for those who read us? Did Jean Valjeaa distinctly 


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perceive, after their formation, and had he seen distinctly dur- 
ing the process of their formation, all the elements of which his 
moral misery was composed ? Had this rough and unlettered 
man gathered a perfectly clear perception of the succession of 
ideas through which lie had, by degrees, mounted and de» 
gcended to the lugubrious aspects which had, for so many years, 
formed the inkier horizon of his spirit? Was he conscious of 
all that passed within him, and of all that was working there? 
That is something which we do not presume to state ; it is some- 
thing which we do not even believe. There was too much igno- 
rance in Jean Valjean, even after his misfortune, to prevent 
much vagueness from still lingering there. At times, he did 
not rightly know himself what he felt. Jean Valjean was in the 
shadows ; he suffered in the shadows ; he hated in the shadows ; 
one might have said that he hated in advance of himself. He 
dwelt habitually in this shadow, feeling his way like a blind man 
and a dreamer. Only, at intervals, there suddenly came to him, 
from without and from within, an access of wrath, a surcharge 
of sufTering, a livid and rapid flash which illuminated his whole 
soul, and caused to appear abruptly all around him, in front, 
behind, amid the gleams of a frightful light, the hideous preci- 
pices and the sombre perspective of his destiny. 

The flash passed, the night closed in again ; and where was 
he ? He no longer knew. The peculiarity Df pains of this na- 
ture, in which that which is pitiless — that is to sa}', that which 
is brutalizing — predominates, is to transform a man, little by 
little, by a sort of stupid transfiguration, into a wild beast; 
sometimes into a ferocious beast. 

Jean Valjean's successive and obstinate attempts at escape 
would alone suffice to prove this strange working of the law 
upon the human soul. Jean Valjean would have renewed these 
attempts, utterly useless and foolish as they were, as often as 
the opportunity had presented itself, without reflecting for an 
instant on the result, nor on the experiences which he had al- 
ready gone through. He escaped impetuously, like the wolf 
who finds his cage open. Instinct said to him, " Flee ! " Rea- 
son would have said, " Remain ! " But in the presence of so 
violent a temptation, reason vanished ; nothing remained but 
instinct. The beast alone acted. When he was recaptured, 
the fresh severities inflicted ofl him only served to render him 
still more wild. 

One detail, which we must not omit, is that he possessed a 
physical strength which was not approached by a single one of 
the denizens of the galleys. At work, at paying out a cable 01 


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wiuding up a capstan, Jean Valjean was worth four men. Ha 
Bometiines lifted and sustained enormous weights on his back ; 
and when the occasion demanded it, he ;*eplaced that implement 
which is called a jack-screw, and was formerly called orgueil 
[pride], whence, we may remark in passing, is derived the name 
of the Rue Montorgueil, near the Halles [Fishmarket] in Paris. 
His comrades had nicknamed him Jean the Jack-screw. Once, 
when they were repairing the balcony of the town-hall at Tou- 
lon, one of those admirable caryatids of Puget, which Bup]K>rt 
the balcony, became loosened, and was on the point of falling. 
Jean Valjean, who was present, sup|x>rted the caryatid with his 
shoulder, and gave the workmen time to arrive. 

His suppleness even exceeded his strength. Certain convicts 
who were forever dreaming of escape, ended by making a veri- 
table science of foi-ce and skill combined. It is the science of 
muscles. An entire system of mysterious statics is daily prac- 
tised by prisoners, men who are forever envious of the flies and 
birds. To climb a vertical surface, and to And ][>oints of sup- 
port where hardly a projection was visible, was play to Jean 
Valjean. An angle of the wall being given, with the tension of 
his back and his legs, with his elbows and his heels fitted into 
the unevennesscs of the stone, he raised himself as if by magic 
to the third story. He sometimes mounted thus even to the 
roof of the galley prison. 

He spoke but little. He laughed not at all. An excessive 
emotion was required to wring from him, once or twic« a year, 
that lugubrious laugh of the convict, which is like the echo oif 
the laugh of a demon. To all appearance, he seemed to be 
occupied in the constant contemplation of something terrible. 

He was absorbed, in fact. 

Athwart the unhealthy perceptions of an incomplete nature 
and a crushed intelligence, he was confusedly conscious that 
some monstrous thing was resting on him. In that obscure and 
wan shadow within which he crawled, each time that he turned 
his neck and essayed to raise his glance, he perceived with ter- 
ror, mingled with rage, a sort of frightful accumulation of 
things, collecting and mounting above him, beyond the range 
of his vision, — laws, prejudices, men, and deeds, — whose out- 
lines escaped him, whose mass terrified him, and which was 
nothing else than that prodigious pyramid which we call civili- 
zation. He distinguished, here and there in that swarming and 
formless mass, now near him, now afar oflP and on inaccessible 
table-lands, some group, some detail, vividly illuminated ; here 
the galley-sergeant and his cudgel ; there the gendarme and his 


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Jf'ANTINE. 89 

•word ; yonder the mitred archbishop ; away at the top, like a 
Bort of sun, the Emperor, crowned and dazzling. Jt seemed tc 
him that these distant splendors, far from dissipating his nighty 
rendered it more funereal and more black. All this — laws, preju- 
dices, deeds, men, things — went and came above him, over his 
head, in accordance with the complicated and mysterious move- 
ment which God imparts to civilization, walking over him and 
crushing him with 1 know not what peacefulness in its crueltj 
and inexorability in its indifference. Souls which have fallen 
to the bottom of all possible misfortune, unhappy men lost in 
the lowest of those limbos at which no one any longer looks, the 
reproved of the law, feel the whole weight of this human society, 
so formidable for him who is without, so frightful for him who 
is beneath, resting uix)n their heads. 

In this situation Jean Valjean meditated ; and what could be 
the nature of his meditation? 

If the grain of millet beneath the millstone had thoughts, it 
would, doubtless, thiuk that same thing which Jean Valjean 

All these things, realities full of spectres, phantasmagories full 
of realities, had eventually created for him a sort of intcrioi 
state which is almost indescribable. 

At times, amid his convict toil, he paused. He fell to think- 
ing. His reason, at one and the same time riper and morç 
troubled than of yore, rose in revolt. Everything which ha<| 
happened to him seemed to him absurd; everything that sur- 
rounded him seemed to him impossible. He said to himself, '^I{ 
is a dream." He gazed at the galley-sei^eant standing a few 
paces from him ; the galley-sergeant seemed a phantom to him. 
All of a sudden the phantom dealt him a blow with his cudgel. 

Visible nature hardly existed for him. It would almost be 
true to say that there existed for Jean Valjean neither sun, nor 
fine summer days, nor radiant sky, nor fresh April dawns. I 
know not what vent-hole daylight habitually illumined his soul. 

To sum up, in conclusion, that which can be summed up and 
translated into positive results in all that we have just pointed 
out, we will confine ourselves to the statement that, in the course 
of nineteen years, Jean Valjean, the inoffensive tree-pruner ol 
Faverolles, the formidable convict of Toulon, had become capa- 
ble, thanks to the manner in which the galleys had moulded 
him, of two sorts of evil action : fii-stly, of evil action which 
was rapid, unpremeditated, dashing, entirely instinctive, in the 
nature of reprisals for the evil which he had undergone ; sec- 
oo(ilv, of evil action which was serious, grave, consciously ar 


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gued ont and premeditated, with the false ideas which soch a 
misfortune can furnish. His deliberate deeds passed tlu'ougb 
three successive phases, which natures of a certain stamp can 
alone traverse, — reasoning, will, perseverance. He had for 
moving causes his habitual wrath, bitterness of soul, a profound 
sense of indignities suffered, the reaction even against the good, 
the innocent, and the just, if there are any such. The point of 
departure, like the point of arrival, for ail his thoughts, was 
hatred of human law ; that hatred which, if it be not arrested in 
'its development by some providential incident, becomes, within 
V given time, the hatred of society, then the hatred of the 
juman race, then the hatred of creation, and which manifests 
itself by a vague, incessant, and brutal desire to do harm to 
some living being, no matter whom. It will be perceived thaï 
it was not without reason that Jean Valjean's passpoit described 
him as a very dangerous man. . 

From year to year this soul had dried away slowly, but witli 
fatal sureness. When the heart is dry, the eye is dry. On his 
departure from the galleys it had been nineteen yeara since he 
had shed a tear. 

Vin. — Billows and Shadows. 

A. MAN overboard ! 

What matters it ? The vessel does not halt. The wind blows. 
That sombre ship has a path which it is forced to pursue. It 
passes on. 

The man disappears, then reappears; he plunges, he rises 
again to the surface ; he calls, he stretches out his arms ; he is 
not heard. The vessel, trembling under the hurricane, is wholly 
absorbed in its own workings ; the passengers and sailors do 
not even see the drowning man ; his miserable head is but a 
speck amid the immensity of the waves. He gives vent to des« 
perate cries from out of the depths. What a spectre is that re- 
treating sail ! He gazes and gazes at it frantically. It retreats, 
it grows dim, it diminishes in size. He was there but just now, 
he was one of the crew, he went and came along the deck with 
the rest, he had his part of breath and of sunlight, he was a 
living man. Now, what has taken place? He has slipped, he 
has fallen ; all is at an end. 

He is in the tremendous sea. Under foot he has nothing but 
what flees and crumbles. The billows, torn and lashed by the 
wind, encompass him hideously ; the tossings of the abyss beat 
him away ; all the tongues of water dash over his head ; a popo- 


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laoe of waves spite upon him ; confused opening half devoui 
him ; every time that he sinks, he catches glimpses of precipicel 
filled with night ; frightful aud unknown vegetations seize him, 
knot about his feet, draw him to them ; he is conscious that he 
is becoming an abyss, that he forms part of the foam ; the waves 
toss him from one to another ; he drinks in the bitterness ; the 
cowardly ocean attacks him furiously, to drown him ; the enor- 
mity plays with his agony. It seems as though all that water 
were hate. 

Nevertheless, he struggles. 

He tries to defend himself; he tries to sustain himself; he 
makes an effort; he swims. He, his petty strength all el 
hausted instantly, combats the inexhaustible. 

Where, then, is the ship? Yonder. Barely visible in the pale 
shadows of the horizon. 

The wind blows iu gusts ; all the foam overwhelms him. He 
raises his eyes^ and beholds only the lividness of the clouds. 
He witnesses, amid his death-pangs, the immense madness of 
the sea. He is tortured by this madness ; he hears noises 
strange to man, which seem to come from be3'ond the limits of 
the earth, and from one knows not what frightful region beyond. 

There are birds in the clouds, just as there are angels above 
human distresses ; but what can they do for him ? They sing 
and fly and float, and he, he rattles in the death agony. 

He feels himself buried in those two infinities, the ocean and 
the sk^', at one and the same time : the one is a tomb ; the othe» 
is a shroud. 

Night descends; he has been swimming for hours; hiC 
strength is exhausted ; that ship, that distant thing in which therd 
were men, has vanished ; he is alone in the formidable twilight 
gulf ; he sinks, he stiffens himself, he tv/ists himself ; he feelff 
under him the monstrous billows of the invisible ; he shouts. 

There are no more men. Where is God? 

He shouts. Help ! Help ! He still shouts on. 

Nothing on the horizon ; nothing in heaven 

He implores the expanse, the waves, the seaweed, the reef ; 
they are deaf. He beseeches the tempest; the imperturbable 
tempest obeys only the infinite. 

Around him darkness, fog, solitude, the stormy and non-sen- 
tient tumult, the undefined curling of those wild waters. In him 
horror and fatigue. Beneath him the depths. Not a point of 
support. He thinks of the gloomy adventures of the corpse in 
the limitless shadow. The bottomless cold paralyzes him. Uia 
iiands contract convulsively ; they close, and grasp nothingness. 


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Winds, cloads, whirlwinds, gnsts, useless stare I What is t« 
^ done? The desperate man gives up; he is weary, ha 
chooses the alternative of death ; he resists not ; he lets him 
delf go ; he abandons his grip ; and tlien he tosses forevermore 
in the lugubrious dreary depths of engulfment. 

Oh, implacable march of human societies ! Oh, losses of men 
^nd of souls on the way ! Ocean into which falls all that the 
law lets slip ! Disastrous absence of help ! Oh, moral death ! 

The sea is the inexorable social night into which the penal 
laws fling their condemned. The sea is the immensity of wretch-- 

The soul, going down stream in this gulf, may become m 
corpse. . Who shall resuscitate it? 

IX.— Nbw Troubles. 

When the hour came for him to take his departure from th« 
galleys, when Jean Valjean heard in his ear the strange woixis, 
Thou art free! the moment s'^emed improbable and unprece« 
dented ; a ray of vivid light, a ray of the time light of the living, 
suddenly penetrated within him. il(it it was not long before 
this ray paled. Jean Valjean had been dazzled by the idea of 
liberty . He had believed in a new life. He very speedily per- 
ceived what sort of liberty it is to which a yellow passport is 

And this was encompassed with much bitterness. He had 
calculated that his earnings, during his sojourn in the galleys, 
ought to amount to a hundred and seventy-one francs. It is 
but just to add that he had forgotten to include in his calc:ila« 
tions the forced repose of Sundays and festival days during 
nineteen years, which entailed a diminution of about eighty 
francs. At all events, his hoard had been reduced by various 
local levies to the sum of one hundred and nine francs fifteen 
«ous, whicli had been counted out to him on his departure. 

He had understood nothing of this, and had thought himself 
wronged. Let us say the word — robbed. 

On the day following his liberation, he saw, at Grasse, in 
front of an orange-flower distillery, some men engaged in un- 
loadi ng bales. He offered his services. Business was pressing ; 
they were accepted. He set to work. He was intelligent, ro* 
bust, adroit ; he did his best ; the master seemed pleased. Whi.^ 
he was at work, a gendarme passed, observed him, and de- 
roauded his papers. It was necessary to show him the yellow 


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passport. That done, Jean Valjean resumed his labor. A lit* 
tie while before he had questioned one of the workmen as to the 
amount which they earned each day at this occupation ; he had 
been told thiHy sous. When evening arrived, as he was forced 
to set out again on the following day, he presented himself to 
the owner of the distillery and requested to be paid. The owner 
did not utter a word, but handed him fifteen sous. He objected. 
He was told, ^^TIuU is enough for thee.'* He persisted. Tba 
master looked him straight between the eyes, and said to him, 
^^ Beware of the prison.** 

There, again, he considered that he had been robbed. 

Society, the State, by diminishing his hoard, had robbed him 
wholesale. Now it was the individual who was robbing him at 

Liberation is not deliverance. One gets free from the gal- 
leys, but not from the sentence. 

That is what happened to him at Grasse. We have seen m 
what manner he was received at D. 

X. — Th£ Man aroused» 

As the Cathedral clock struck two in the morning, Jean Val* 
]ean awoke. 

What woke him was that his bed was too good. It was nearly 
twenty years since he had slept in a bed, and, altliough he had 
not undressed, the sensation was too novel not to disturb his 

He had slept more than four hours. His fatigue had passed 
away. He was accustomed not to devote many hours to reix)se. 

He opened his eyes and stared into the gloom wliich sur- 
rounded him; then he closed them again, with the intention of 
going to sleep once more. 

When man}' varied sensations have agitated the day, when 
various matters preoccupy the mind, one falls asleep once, but 
not a second time. Sleep comes more easily than it returns. 
This is what happened to Jean Valjean. He could not get to 
sleep again, and he fell to thinking. 

He was at one of those moments when the thoughts which 
one has in one's mind are troubled. There was a sort of dark 
confusion in his brain. His memories of the olden time and of 
the immediate present floated there pell-pell and mingled con- 
fusedly, losing their proper forms, becoming disproportionately 
targe, then suddenlj disappearing, as in a muddy and perturbed 


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pool. Many thoughts occurred to him ; but there was one whicb 
kept constantly presenting itself afresh, and which drove away 
all the others. We will mention this thonght at once : he had 
observed the six sets of silver forks and spoons and the ladle 
which Madame Magloire had placed on the table. 

Those six sets of silver haunted him. — They were there. — A 
few paces distant. — Just as he was traversing the adjoining room 
to reach the one in which he then was, the old servant-woman 
had been in the act of placing them in a little cupboard near the 
head of the bed. — He had taken careful note of this cupboard. 
— On the right, as you entered from the dining-room. — They 
were solid. — And old silver. — From the ladle one could get 
at least two hundred francs. — Double what he had earned in 
^neteen years. — It is true that he would have earned more if 
*' the administration had not robbed him,** 

His mind wavered for a whole hour in fluctuations with which 
there was certainly mingled some struggle. Three o'clock struck. 
He opened his eyes again, drew himself up abruptly into a sit- 
ting posture, stretched out his ann and felt of his knapsack^ 
which he had thrown down on a corner of the alcove ; then he 
hung his legs over the edge of the bed, and placed his feet on 
the floor, and thus found himself, almost without knowing it, 
seated on his bed. 

He remained for a time thoughtfully in this attitude, which 
vould have been suggestive of something sinister for any one 
who had seen him thus in the dark, the only person awake in 
Ihat house where all were sleeping. All of a sudden he stooped 
down, removed his shoes and placed them softly on the mat l)e- 
tide the bed ; then he resumed his thoughtful attitude, and be« 
came motionless once more. 

Throughout this hideous meditation, the thoughts which we 
have al)ove indicated moved incessantly through his brain; 
entered, withdrew, re-entered, and in a manner oppressed 
him ; and then he thought, also, without knowing why, and with 
the mechanical persistence of re very, of a convict named Brevet, 
whom he had known in the galleys, and whose trousers had been 
upheld by a single suspender of knitted cotton. The checkered 
pattern of that suspender recurred incessantly to his mind. 

He remained in this situation, and would have so remained 
indefinitely, even until daybreak, had not the clock struck one 
-^the half or quarter hour. It seemed to him that that stroke 
said to him, "Come on !" 

He rose to his feet, hesitated still another moment, and lis- 
tened; all was quiet in the house: theu he walked straight 


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ahead, with short steps, to the window, of which he caught a 
glimpse. The night was not very dark ; there was a full moon, 
across which coursed large clouds, driven by the wind. Thia 
created, outdoors, alternate shadow and gleams of light, eclipses, 
then bright openings of the clouds; and indoors a sort of twi- 
light. This twilight, sufficient to enable a person to see his 
way, intermittent on account of the clouds, resembled the sort 
of livid light which falls through an air-hole in a cellar, befori 
which the passers-b}' come and go. On arriving at the window, 
Jean Valjean examined it. It had no grating ; it opened ii 
the garden and was fastened, according to the fashion of th€ 
country, only by a small pin. He opened it; but as a rush of 
cold and piercing air penetrated the room aL; iptl}-, he closed it 
again immediately. He scrutinized the garden with that atten- 
tive gaze which studies rather than looks. The garden was 
enclosed by a tolerably low white wall, easy to climb. Far 
away, at the extremity, he perceived tops of trees, spaced at 
regular intervals, which indicated that the wall separated the 
garden from an avenue or lane planted with trees. 

Having taken this survey, he executed a movement like that 
of a man who has made up his mind, strode to his alcove, 
grasped his knapsack, opened it, fumbled in it, pulled out of it 
something which he placed on the bed, put his shoes into one of 
his pockets^ shut the whole thing up again, threw the knapsack 
on his shoulders, put on his cap, drew the visor down over his 
eyes, felt for his cudgel, went and placed it in the angle of the 
window ; then returned to the bed, and resolutely seized the 
object which he had deposited there. It resembled a short bar 
of iron, pointed like a pike at one end. It would have been diffi- 
cult to distinguish in that darkness for what employment that 
bit of iron could have been designed. Perhaps it was a lever ; 
possibly it was a club. 

In the daytime it would have been possible to reoc^nize it as 
nothing more than a miner's candlestick. Convicts were, at 
that period, sometimes employed in quarrying stone from the 
lofty hills which environ Toulon, and it was not rare for them to 
have miners' tools at their command. These miners' candle 
sticks are of massive iron, terminated at the lower extremity bj 
a point, by means of which they are stuck into the rock. 

He took the candlestick in his right hand ; holding his breath 
and tryiiig to deaden the sound of his tread, he directed his 
steps to the door of the adjoining room, occupied by the Bishop, 
as we alread}' know. 

On arriving ai this door, he found it ajar. The Bishop had 
not closed it. 

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XI. — What hk dobs. 

Jean Valjean listened. Not a souud. 

He gave the door a push. 

Ile pushed it gently with the tip of his finger, lightly, with tLi 
iUrtive and uneasy gentleness of a eat which is desirous o! 

The door yielded to this pressure, and made an imperceptibU 
and silent movement, which enlarged the opening a little. 

He waited a moment; then gave the door a second and a 
bolder push. 

It continued to yield in silence. The opening was now large 
enough to allow him to pass. But near the door there stood a 
little table, which formed an embarrassing angle with it, and 
barred the entrance. 

Jean Valjcan recognized the difliculty. It was necessary» at 
any cost, to enlarge the aperture still further. 

He decided on his course of action, and gave the door a third 
push, more energetic than the two preceding. This time a bacHy 
oiled hinge suddenly emitted amid the silence a hoarse and pro- 
longed cry. 

Jean Valjean sliuddered. The noise of the hinge rang in his 
ears with something of the piercing and formidable sound of the 
trump of the Day of Judgment. 

In the fantastic exaggerations of the first moment he almost 
imagined that that hinge had just become animated, and had 
suddenl}' assumed a terrible life, and that it was barking like a 
dog to arouse every one, and warn and to wake those who were 
asleep. He halted, shuddering, bewildered, and fell back from 
the tips of his toes upon his heels. He heard the arteries in his 
temples beating like two forge hammers, and it seemed to him 
that his breath issued from his breast with the roar of the wind 
issuing from a cavern. It seemed impossible to him that the 
horrible clamor of that irritated hinge should not have disturbed 
the entire household, like the shock of an earthquake ; tlie door, 
pushed by him, had taken the alarm, and had shouted ; the old 
man would rise at once ; the two old women would shriek out ; 
people would come to their assistance ; in less than a quarter of 
an hour tlic town would be in an u[)roar, and the gendarmerie 
on hand. For a moment he thouirht himself lost. 

He remained where he was, petrified like the statue of saltf 


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not dariDg to make a movement. Several minutes elapsed. The 
door had fallen wide open. He ventured to peep into the next 
room. Nothing had stirred there. lie lent an ear. Nothing 
was moving in the house. The noise made by the rusty hinge 
had not awakened any one. 

This first danger was past ; but there still reigned a frightful 
tumult within him. Nevertheless, he did not retreat. Even 
when he had thought himself lost, he had not drawn back. His 
only thought now was to finish as soon as possible. He took a 
gtep and entered the room. 

This room was in a state of perfect calm. Here and there 
vague and confused forms were distinguishable, which in the 
daylight were papers scattered on a table, open folios, volumes 
piled upon a stool, an arm-chair heaped with clothing, a prie- 
Dieu, and which at that hour were only shadowy corners and 
whitish spots. Jean Valjean advanced with precaution, taking 
care not to knock against the furniture. He could hear, at the 
extremity of the room, the even and tranquil breathing of the 
sleeping Bishop. 

He suddenly came to a halt. He was near the bed. He had 
arrived there sooner than he had thought for. 

Nature sometimes mingles her effects and her spectacles with 
our actions with sombre and intelligent appropriateness, as 
though she desired to make us reflect. For the last half-hour a 
large cloud had covered the heavens. At the moment when 
Jean Valjean paused in front of the bed, this cloud parted, as 
though on purpose, and a ray of light, traversing the long win- 
dow, suddenly illuminated the Bishop's pale face. He was 
sleeping peacefully. He lay in his bed almost completely 
dressed, on account of the cold of the Basses- Alpes, in a gar- 
ment of brown wool, which covered his arms to the wrists. Hia 
heed was thrown back on the pillow, in the careless attitude of 
repose ; his hand, adorned with the pastoral ring, and whence 
had fallen so many good deeds and so many holy actions, was 
hanging over the edge of the bed. His whole face was illnrained 
with a vague expression of satisfaction, of hope, and of felicity. 
It was more than a smile, and almost a radiance. He bore upon 
his brow the indescribable reflection of a light which was invisi« 
ble. The soul of the just contemplates in sleep a mysterious 

A reflection of that heaven rested on the Bishop. 

It was, at the same time, a luminous transparency, for thai 
heaven was within him. That heaven was his conscience. 

At the moment when the ray of moonlight superposed itselfi 


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so to speak, upon that inward radiance, the sleeping Bishop 
seemed as in a glory. It remained, however, gentle and veiled 
in an ineffable half-light. That moon in the sky, that slumber- 
ing nature, that garden without a quiver, that house which was 
«o calm, the hour, the moment, the silence, added some solemn 
and unspeakable qualit}' to the venerable repose of this man, 
and enveloped in a sort of serene and majestic aureole that 
white hair, those closed eyes, that face in which all was hope 
and all was confidence, that head of an old man, and that 
slumber of an infant. 

There was something almost divine in this man, who was thus 
august, without being himself aware of it. 

Jean Val jean was in the shadow, and stood motionless, with 
his iron candlestick in his hand, frightened by this luminous old 
man. Never had he beheld anything like this. This confidence 
terrified him. The moral world has no grander spectacle than 
this : a troubled and uneasy conscience, which has arrived on 
the brink of an evil action, contemplating the slumber of the 

That slumber in that isolation, and with a neighbor like him* 
self, had about it something sublime, of which he was vaguely 
but imperiously conscious. 

No one could have told what was passing within him, not even 
himself. In order to attempt to form an idea of it, it is neces- 
sary to think of the most violent of things in the presence of the 
most gentle. Even on his visage it would have been impossi- 
ble to distinguish anything with certainty. It was a sort of 
haggard astonishment. He gazed at it, and that was all. But 
what was his thought? It would have been impossible to divine 
it. What was evident was, that he was touched and astounded. 
But what was the nature of this emotion ? 

His eye never quitted the old man. The only thing which was 
;$learly to be infened from his attitude and his physiognomy was 
a strange indecision. One would have said that he was hesitat- 
ing between the two abysses, — the one in which one loses one's 
self and that in which one saves one's self. He seemed prepared 
to crush that skull or to kiss that hand. 

At the expiration of a few minutes his left arm rose slowlj' 
towards his brow, and he took off his cap ; then his arm feU 
back with the same deliberation, and Jean Valjean fell to medi- 
tating once more, his cap in his left hand, his club in his right 
hand, his hair bristling all over his savage head. 

The Bishop continued to sleep in profound peace beneath that 
terrifying gazo. 


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The gleam of tiie moon rendered oonf nsedly visible the cmci 
fix over the chimney-piece, which seemed to be extending its 
arms to l>olh of them, with a benediction for one and pardon 
for the other. 

Suddenly Jean Valjean replaced his cap on his brow ; thea 
itepped rapidly past the bed, without glancing at the Bishop, 
straight to the cupboard, which he saw near the head ; he raised 
his iron candlestick as though to force the lock ; the key was 
there ; he opened it ; the first thing which presented itself to 
him was the basket of silverware ; he seized it, traversed the 
chamber with long strides, without taking any precautions and 
without troubling himself about the noise, gained the door, re« 
entered the oratory, opened the window, seized his cudgel, be< 
strode the window-sill of the ground-floor, put the silver into 
his knapsack, threw awa}' the basket, crossed the garden, leaped 
over the wall like a tiger, and fled. 

XII. — The Bishop wobks* 

The next morning at sunrise Monseigneur Bienvenu waa 
strolling in his garden. Madame Magloire ran up to him in 
utter consternation. 

*' Monseigneur, Monseigneur!" she exclaimed, '^does your 
Grace know where the basket of silver is ? " 

"Yes," replied the Bishop. 

'^ Jesus the Lord be blessed ! " she resumed ; " I did not know 
what had become of it." 

The Bishop had just picked up the basket in a flower-bed. He 
presented it to Madame Magloire. 

" Here it is." 

" Well ! " said she. » ' Nothing in it ! And the sUver ? " 

"Ah," returned the Bishop, "so it is the silver which trou 
Aes you? I don't know where it is." 

" Great, good God ! It is stolen I That man who was here 
last night has stolen it." 

In a twinkling, with all the vivacity of an alert old woman, 
Madame Magloire had rushed to the oratory, entered the alcove, 
and returned to the Bishop. The Bishop had just bent down, 
and was sighing as he examined a plant of cochlearia des Guil« 
Ions, which the basket had broken as it fell across the bed. Ha 
rose up at Madame Magloire's cry. 

"Monseigneur, tb^ 3iMd? H «one! The silver has beef 
itolca- • 


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As she uttered this exclamation, her eyes fell upon a cornel 
of the garden, where traces of the wall having been scaled were 
visible. The coping of the wall had been torn away. 

" Stay ! yonder is the waj' he went. He jumped over into 
Cochefîlet Lane. Ah, the abomination I He has stolen our sil- 
ver ! " 

The Bishop remained silent for a moment ; then he raised hie 
grave eyes, and said gently to Madame Magloire : — 

" And, in the first place, was that silver ours? " 

Madame Magloire was speechless. Another silence ensued 5 
then the Bishop went on : — 

'' Madame Magloire, I have for a long time detained that 
silver wrongfully. It belonged to the poor. Who was that 
man? A poor man, evidently." 

'* Alas I Jesus ! " returned Madame Magloire. " It is not for 
my sake, nor for Mademoiselle's. It makes no difference to us. 
But it is for the sake of Monseigneur. What is Monseigneur 
to eat with now ? " 

The Bishop gazed at her with an air of amazement. 

^^ Ah, come 1 Are there no such things as pewter forks and 

Madame Magloire shrugged her shoulders. 

" Pewter has an odor." 

" Iron forks and spoons, then." 

Madame Magloire made an expressive grimace* 

'* Iron has a taste." 

" Very well," sai(i the Bishop ; " wooden ones then.** 

A few moments later he was breakfasting at the very table at 
which Jean Valjean had sat on the previous evening. As he 
ate his breakfast. Monseigneur Welcome remarked gayly to his 
sister, who said nothing, and to Madame Magloire, who was 
grumbling under her breath, that one really does not need either 
fork or spoon, even of wood, in order to dip a bit of bread in a 
oi.j) of milk. 

** A pretty idea, truly," said Madame Magloire to herself, as 
she went and came, " to take in a man like that ! and to lodge 
him close to one's self ! And how fortunate that he did nothing 
but steal ! Ah, mon Dieu ! it makes one shudder to think of 

As the brother and sister were about to rise from the table, 
there came a knock at the door. 

" Come in," said the Bishop. 

The door opened. A singular and violent group made ita 
appearance on the threshold. Three men were holding a fourth 


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FA NT I NE. 101 

man by the collar. The three men were gendarmes ; the other 
was Jean Valjean. 

A brigadier of gendarmes, who seemed to be in command of 
the group, was standing near the door. He entered and 
advanced to the Bishop, making a military salute. 

" Monseigneur — " said he. 

At this word, Jean Valjean, who was dejected and seemed 
overwhelmed, raised his head with an air of stupefaction. 

" Monseigneur ! '' he murmured. " So he is not the curé ? '" 

"Silence!'' said a gendarme. "He is Monseigneur the 

In the meantime, Monseigneur Bienvenu had advanced as 
quickly as his great age permitted. 

" Ah ! here you are ! " he exclaimed, looking at Jean Val- 
jean. " I am glad to see you. Well, but how is this ? I ^ave 
you the candlesticks too, which are of silver like the rest, and 
for which you can certainly get two hundred francs. Why did 
you not carry them away with your forks and spoons ? " 

Jean Valjean opened his eyes wide, and stared at the vener- 
able Bishop with an expression which no human tongue can 
render an}- account of. 

" Monseigneur," said the brigadier of gendarmes, '' so what 
this man said is true, then? We came across him. He was 
walking like a man who is running away. We stopped him to 
look into the matter. He had this silver — " 

" And he told you," interposed the Bishop, with a smile, 
^^ that it had been given to him by a kind old fellow of a priest 
with whom he had passed the niffht? I see how the matter 
stands. And you have brought him back here ? It is a mis- 

"In that case," replied the brigadier, ** we can let him go?'* 

" Certainly," replied the Bishop. 

The gendarmes released Jean Valjean, who recoiled. 

" Is it true that I am to be released? " he said, in an almost 
narticulate voice, and as though he were talking in his sleep. 

'*Ye8, thou art released; dost thou not understand ?" said 
one of the gendarmes. 

'* My friend," resumed the Bishop, " before you go, here are 
your candlesticks. Take them." 

He stepped to the chimney-piece, took the two silver candle- 
sticks, and brought them to Jean Valjean. The two women 
Icx>ked on without uttering a word, without a gesture, without a 
kok which coald disconcert the Bishop. 


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Jean Valîcan was trembling in every limb. He took the two 
:andlesticks mechanically, and with a bewildered air. 

'* Now," Baid the Bishop, *' go in peace. By the way, when 
jrou return, my friend, it is not necessary to pass through the 
garden. You can always enter and depart through the street 
floor. It is never fastened with anything but a latch, either by 
day or by night." 

Then, turning to the gendarmes ; — 

** You may retire, gentlemen." 

The gendarmes retired. 

Jean Val jean was like a man on the point of fainting. 

The Bishop drew near to him, and said in a low voice : — 

'' Do not forget, never forget, that you have promised to use 
this money in becoming an honest man." 

Jean Val jean, who had no recollection of ever having 
promised an}* thing, remained speechless. The Bishop had em- 
phasized the words when he uttered them. He resumed with 
solemnity : — 

*' Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but 
to good. It is your soul that I buy from you ; I withdraw it 
from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to 

Xin. — LnTLE Gebyais. 

Jean Valjean left the town as though he were fleeing from 
it. He set out at a very hasty pace through the fields, taking 
whatever roads and paths presented themselves to him, without 
perceiving that he was incessantly retracing his steps. He 
wandered thus the whole morning, without having eatea any- 
thing and without feeling hungry. He was the prey of a throng 
of novel sensations. He was conscious of a sort of rage ; he 
did not know against whom it was directed. He could not have 
told whether he was touched or humiliated. There came over 
him at moments a strange emotion which he resisted and to 
which he opposed the hardness acquired during the last twenty 
years of his life. This state of mind fatigued him. He per- 
ceived with dismay that the sort of frightful calm which the 
injustice of his misfortune had conferred upon him was giving 
way within him. He asked himself what would replace this. 
A-t times he would bave actually preferred to be in prison with 
«.Le uçeiufarmes. and tbat things should not have hap|)ened in 
thi:: '/ay; ii would have agitated him less. Although the 
deason was tolerably far advanced, there were still a few lata 


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flowers m the hedge-rows here and there, whose odor as he 
passed through them in his march recalled to him memories ot 
his childhood. These memories were almost intolerable to him, 
it was so long since they had recurred to him. 

Unutterable thoughts assembled within him in this manner all 
lay long. 

As the sun declined to its setting, casting long shadows 
itliwart the soil from every pebble, Jean Val jean sat down 
behind a bush upon a large ruddy plain, which was absolutely 
deserted. There was nothing on the horizon except the Alps. 
Not even the spire of a distant village. Jean Valjean might 
have been three leagues distant from D. A path which inter- 
sected the plain passed a lew paces from the bush. 

In the middle of this meditation, which would have contrib- 
uted not a little to render his rags terrifying to any one who 
might have encountered him, a joyous sound became audible. 

He turned his head and saw a little Savoyard, about ten years 
of age, coming up the path and singing, his hurdy-gurdy on 
his hip, and his marmot-box on his back. 

One of those gay and gentle children, who go from land to 
land affording a view of their knees through the holes in their 

Without stopping his song, the lad halted in his march from 
time to time, and played at knuckle-bones with some coins 
which he had in his hand — his whole fortune, probably. 

Among this money there was one forty-sou piece. 

The child halted beside the bush, without perceiving Jean 
Valjean, and tossed up his handful of sous, which, up to that 
time, he had caught with a good deal of adroitness on the back 
of his hand. 

This time the forty-sou piece escaped him, and went rolling 
towards the brushwood until it reached Jean Valjean. 

Jean Valjean set his foot upon it. 

In the meantime, the child had looked after his coin and had 
caught sight of him. 

He showed no astonishment, but walked straight up to the 

The spot was absolutely solitary. As far as the eye could 
8ee there was not a person on the plain or on the path. The 
only sound was the tiny, feeble criés of a flock of birds of 
passage, which was traversing the heavens at an immense 
height. The child was standing with his back to the sun, which 
cast threads of gold in his hair and empurpled with its blood- 
red gleam the savage face of Jean Valjean. 


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" Sir," said the little Savoyard, with that childish confidence 
which is coini)osed of ignorance and innocence, " my money." 

" What is your name ? " said Jean Valjean. 

" Little Gervais, sir." 

" Go away," said Jean Valjean. 

** Sir," resumed the child, " give me back my money." 

Jean Valjean dropped his head, and made no reply. 

The child began again, " My money, sir." 

Jean Valjean's eyes remained fixed on the earth. 

" My piece of money ! " cried the child, " my white piece Î 
my silver ! " 

It seemed as though Jean Valjean did not hear him. The 
child grasi)«d him by the collar of his blouse and shook him. 
At the same time he made an effort to displace the big iron- 
shod shoe which rested on his treiisure. 

" I want my piece of money ! my piece of forty sous ! " 

The child wept. Jean Valjean raised his head. He still re- 
mained seated. His eyes were troubled. He gazed at the child 
in a sort of amazement, then he stretched out liis hand towards 
his cudgel and cried in a terrible voice, " Wlio's there ? " 

" I, sir," replied the child. " Little Gervais ! I ! Give me 
back my forty sous, if you please ! Take your foot away, sir, 
if you please ! " 

Then irritated, though he was so small, and becoming almost 
menacing : — 

" Come now, will you take your foot away ? Take your foot 
away, or we'll see ! " 

" Ah ! It's still you ! " said Jean Valjean, and rising abruptly 
to his feet, his foot still resting on the silver piece, he added: — 

" Will you take yourself off ! " 

The frightened child looked at him, then began to tremble 
from head to foot, jind after a few moments of stupor he set 
out, running at the top of his speed, without daring to turn his 
neck or to utter a cry. 

Nevertlieless, lack of breath forced him to halt after a cer- 
tain distance, and Jean Valjean heard him sobbing, in the midst 
of his own re very. 

At the end of a few moments the child had disappeared. 

The sun had set. 

The shadows were descending around Jean Valjean. He had 
eaten nothing all day ; it is probable that he was feverish. 

He had remained standing and had not changed his attitude 
after the child's flight. The breath heaved his chest at lonp 
and irregular intervals. His gaze, fixed ten or twelve pactss in 


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FA NT f NE. 103 

front ^f him, Beemed to be scrutinizing with profound attentioc 
the s^ape of an ancient fragment of blue earthenware which 
had fallen in the grass. All at once he shivered ; he had juHt 
begun to feel the chill of evening. 

lie settled his cap more firml}' on his brow, sought mechani- 
cally to cross and button his blouse, advanced a step, and 
itooped to pick up his cudgel. 

At that moment he caught sight of the forty-sou piece, which 
his foot had half ground into the earth, and which was shining 
among the pebbles. It was as though he had received a gal- 
vanic shock. " What is this?" he muttered between his teetli. 
He recoiled three paces, then halted, without being able to 
detach his gaze from the spot which his foot had trodden but 
an instant before, as though the thing which lay glittering there 
in the gloom had been an open eye riveted upon him. 

At the expiration of a few moments he darted convulsively 
towards the silver coin, seized it, and straightened himself up 
again and began to gaze afar off over the plain, at the same 
time casting his eyes towards all points of the horizon, as he 
stood there erect and shivering, like a terrified wild animai 
^hich is seeking a refuge. 

He saw nothing. Night was falling, the plain was cold and 
vague, great banks of violet haze were rising in the gleam of 
the twilight. 

He said, ^^ Ah !" and set out rapidly in the direction in which 
the child had disappeared. After about thirty paces he paused, 
looked about him and saw nothing. 

Then he shouted with all his might : — 

*' Little Gervais ! Little Gervais 1 ** 

He paused and waited* 

There was no reply. 

The landscape was gloomy and deserted. He was encom 
passed by space. There was nothing around him but an ob 
scanty in which his gaze was lost, and a silence which engulfed 
his voice. 

An icy north wind was blowing, and imparted to things 
around him a sort of lugubrious life. The bushes shook their 
thin little arms with incredible fury. One would have said 
that they were threatening and pursuing some one. 

He set out on his march again, then he began to run ; and 
from time to time he halted and shouted into that solitude, 
with a voice which was the most formidable and the most dis- 
consolate that it was possible to hear, ^^ Little Gervais I Little 
Qervais I '^ 


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Assuredly, if the child had heard him, he would haye bee« 
aiarmed and would have taken good care not to Rhow himself. 
But the child was no doubt already far away. 

He encountered a priest on horseback. He stepped up to 
him and said : — 

*•*' Monsieur le Curé, have you seen a child pass?" 

''No," said the priest. 

*' One named Little Gervais?" 

" I have seen no one." 

He drew two five-franc pieces from his money-bag ano 
banded them to the priest. 

''Monsieur le Curé, this is for your poor i)eople. Monsieur 
le Curé, he was a little lad, about ten years old, with a marmot, 
1 think, and a hurdy-gurdy. One of those Savoyaitis, you 

" I have not seen him." 

"Little Gervais? There are no villages here? Can you 
tell me?" 

" If he is like what you say, my friend, he is a little stranger. 
Such persons pass through tiiese parts. We know nothing of 

Jean Valjean seized two more coins of five francs each with 
violence, and gave them to. the priest. 

"For your poor," he said. 

Then he added, wildly : — 

" Monsieur l'Abbé, have me arrested. I am a thief •" 

The priest put spurs to his horse and fled in haste, much 

Jean Valjean set out on a run, in the direction which he had 
first taken. 

In this way he traversed a tolerably long distance, gazing, 
calling, shouting, but he met no one. Two or three times he 
ran across the plain towards something which conveyed to him 
the effect of a human being reclining or couching down ; it 
turned out to be nothing but bnishwood or rocks nearly on 
a level with the earth. At length, at a spot where three paths 
intersected each other, he stopped. The moon had risen. He 
sent his gaze into the distance and shouted for the last time, 
" Little Gervais ! Little Gervais ! Little Gervais ! " His shout 
died away in the mist, without even awakening an echo. He 
murmured yet once more, " Little Gervais ! " but in a feeble and 
almost inarticulate voice. It was his last effort ; his legs gave 
way abruptly under him, as though an invisible power had sud- 
denly over^ helmed him with the weifirht of his evU conscience ; 


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Ae fell exhansted, on a large stone, his fists clenched in his hair 
and his face on his knees, and he cried, " I am a wretch ! *' 

Then his heart burst, and he began to cry. It was the first 
time that be had wept in nineteen years. 

When Jean Valjeah left the Bishop's house, he was, as we 
have seen, quite thrown out of ever3*thing that had been his 
thought hitherto. He could not yield to the evidence of what 
iFas going on within him. He hardened himself against the 
HDgelic action and the gentle words of tiie old man. *'You 
have promised me to become an honest man. I buy your soul. 
I take it away from the spirit of perversit}' ; I give it to the 
good God." 

This recurred to his mind unceasingly. To this celestial 
kindness he opposed pride, which is the fortress of evil within 
08. He was indistinct!}' conscious that the pardon of this priest 
was the greatest assault and the most formidable attack which 
had moved him yet ; that his obduracy was finally settled if he 
resisted this clemency ; that if he yielded, he should be obliged 
to renounce that hatred with which the actions of other men 
had filled his soul through so many years, and which pleased 
him ; that this time it was necessary to conquer or to be con- 
quered ; and that a struggle, a colossal and final struggle, had 
heen begun between his viciousness and the goodness of that 

In the presence of these lights, he proceeded like a man who 
is intoxicated. As he walked thus with haggard eyes, did he 
have a distinct perception of what might result to him from 
his adventure at D. ? Did he understand all those mysterious 
murmurs which warn or importune the spirit at certain moments 
of life? Did a voice whisper in his ear that he had just passed 
the solemn hour of his destiny ; that there no longer remained 
a middle course for him ; that if he were not henceforth the 
best of men, he would be the worst ; that it behooved him now, 
80 to speak, to mount higher than the Bishop, or fall lower 
than the convict; that if he wished to become good, he must 
become an angel ; that if he wished to remain evil, he must be- 
come a monster? 

Here, again, some questions must be put, which we have 
already put to ourselves elsewhere : did he catch some shadow 
of all this in his thought, in a confused way? Misfortune cer- 
tainly, as we have said, does form the education of the inti'Ui- 
pence ; nevertheless, it is doubtful whether Jean Valjean was 
in a condition to disentangle all that we have here indicated. 
If these ideas occurred to him, he but caught glimpses of, 


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rather than saw them, and they only succeeded m throwing 
him into an uuiitterabic and almost painful state of emotion. 
On emerging from that black and deformed thing which is 
called the galleys, the Bishop had hurt his soul, as too vivid a 
light would have hurt his eyes on emerging from the dark. 
The future life, the possible life which offered itself to him 
henceforth, all pure and radiant, filled him with* tremors and 
anxiety. lie no longer knew where he really was. Like an 
owl, who should suddenly see the sun rise, the convict had been 
dazzled and blinded, as it were, by virtue. 

That which was certain, that which he did not doubt, was that 
he was no longer the same man, that ever3'thing about him was 
changed, that it was no longer in his power to make it as though 
the Bishop had not spoken to him and had not touched him. 

In this state of mind he had encountered little Gervais, and 
had robbed him of his forty sous. Why ? He certainly could 
not have explained it ; was this the last effect and the supreme 
effort, as it were, of the evil thoughts which he had brought 
away from the galleys, — a remnant of impulse, a result of what 
is called in statics, acquired force? It was that, and it was 
also, perhaps, even less than that. Let us say it simply, it 
was not he who stole ; it was not the man ; it was the beast, 
who, by habit and instinct, had simply placed its foot upon 
that money, w^hile the intelligence was struggling amid so many 
novel and hitherto unheard-of thoughts besetting it. 

When intelligence re-awakened and beheld that action of the 
brute, Jean Valjean recoiled with anguish and uttered a crj* of 

It was because, — strange phenomenon, and one which was 
possible only in the situation in which he found himself, — in 
stealing the money from that child, he had done a thing of 
which he was no longer capable. 

However that may be, this last evil action had a decisive 
effect on him ; it abruptly traversed that chaos which he boi e 
in his mind, and dispersed it, placed on one side the thick obscu- 
rity, and on the other the light, and acted on his soul, in the 
state in which it then was, as certain chemical reagents act 
upon a troubled mixture by precipitating one element and clari- 
fying the other. 

First of all, even before examining himself and reflecting, all 
bewildered, like one who seeks to save himself, he tried to find 
the child in order to return his money to him ; then, when he 
recognized the fact that this was impossible, he halted in despair. 
At the moment when he exclaimed ^^ I am a wretch!" he had 


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Just perceived what he was, and he was already separated from 
himself to sach a degree, that he seemed to himself to be no 
longer anj'thing more than a phantom, and as if he had, there 
before him, in flesh and blood, the hideous galley-convict, Jean 
Valjean, cudgel in hand, his blouse on his hips, his knapsack 
filled with stolen objects on his back, with his resolute and 
gloomy visage, with his thoughts filled with abominable projects. 

Excess of unhappiness had, as we have remarked, made him 
in some sort a visionary. This, then, was in the nature of a 
vision. He actually saw that Jean Valjean, that sinister face, 
before him. He had almost reached the point of asking himself 
who that man was, and he was horrified by him. 

His brain was going through one of those violent and yet 
perfectly calm moments in which revery is so profound that it 
absorbs reality. One no longer beliolds the objects which one 
has before one, and one sees, as though apart from one's self, 
the figures which one has in one's own mind. 

Thus he contemplated himself, so to speak, face to face, and 
at the same time, athwart this hallucination, he perceived in a 
mysterious depth a sort of light which he at first took for a 
torch. On scrutinizing this light -which appeared to his con- 
science with more attention, he recognized the fact that it pos- 
sessed a human form and that this torch was the Bishop. 

His conscience weighed in turn these two men thus placed 
before it, — the Bishop and Jean Valjean. Nothing less than 
the first was required to soften the second. By one of those 
singular effects, which are peculiar to this sort of ecstasies, in 
proportion as his revery continued, as the Bishop grew great 
and resplendent in his eyes, so did Jean Valjean grow less 
and vanish. After a certain time he was no longer anything 
more than a shade. All at once he disappeared. The Bishop 
alone remained ; he filled the whole soul of this wretched man 
with a magnificent radiance. 

Jean Valjean wept for a long time. He wept burning tears, 
he sobbed with more weakness than a woman, with more fright 
than a child. 

As he wept, daylight penetrated more and more clearly into 
his soul ; an extraordinary' light ; a light at once ravishing and 
terrible. His past life, his first fault, his long expiation, his 
external brutishness, his internal hardness, his dismissal to 
liberty, rejoicing in manifold plans of vengeance, what had hap- 
pened to him at the Bishop's, the last thing that he had done, 
that theft of forty sous from a child, a crime air the more 
cowardly and all the more monstrous since it had come after 
the Bishop's pardon, — all this recurred to his mind and appeared 


clearly to him, but with a clearness which he had never hitherto 
witnessed. He examined liis life, and it seemed horiii>le to 
him ; his soul, and it seemed frigiitfiil to him. In the luean- 
tirae a gentle light rested over tliis life and this soul. It 
seemed to liim that he beheld Satan by the light of Paradise. 

How many hours did he weep thus? What did he do after 
he had wept? Whither did he go! No one ever knew. The 
only thing which seems to be authenticated is that that same 
night the carrier who served Grenoble at that eix>oh, and who 
arrived at D. about three o'clock in the morning, saw, as he 
tnivei-sed the street in which the Bishop's residence was Bit 
uated, a man in t]\e attitude of prayer, kneeling on the pave 
ment in the shadow, in front of the door of Monseigneoi 


I.— The Year 1817. 

1817 is the year which Louis XVIII., with a certain royaJ 
assurance which was not wanting in pride, entitled the twenty- 
second of his reign. It is the year in which M. Bruguière de 
Sorsum was celebrated. All the hairdressers' shops, hoping 
for powder and the return of the royal bird, were besmeare<i 
with azure and decked with fleurs-de-lys. It was Ihe candid 
time at which Count Lynch sat every Sunday as church-warden 
in the church-warden's pew of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in his 
costume of a peer of France, with his red ribbon and his long 
nose and the majesty of profile peculiar to a man who has per- 
formed a brilliant action. The brilliant action performed by 
M. Lynch was this: being mayor of Bordeaux, on the 12th of 
March, 1814, he had surrendered the city a little too promptly 
to M. the Duke d'Angouleme. Hence his peerage. In 1817 
fashion swallowed up little boys of from four to six years of 
age in vast caps of morocco leather with ear-tabs resembling 
Esquimaux mitres. The French arm}* was dressed in white, 
after the mode of the Austrian ; the regiments were called 
legions; instead of numbers they bore the names of depart- 
ments ; Napoleon was at St. Helena ; and since England refused 
him green cloth, he was having his old coats turned. In 1817 
Pelligrini sang ; Mademoiselle Bigottini danced ; Potier reigned ; 
Odry did not yet exist. Madame Saqui had succeeded M 


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F(Hio60. There were still Prussians in France. M. Delalol 
was a personage. Legitiroaey had jnst asserted itself by cut 
ting off the hand, then the head, of Pieignier, of Carbonneau, 
and of Tolleron. The Prince de Talleyrand, grand chamber- 
lain, and the Abbé Louis, appointed minister of finance, langhed 
as they looked at each other, with the langh of the two augurs ; 
both of them had celebrated, on the 14th of July, 1790, the mass 
of federation in the Champ de Mars ; Talleyrand had said it as 
bishop, Louis had served it in the capacity of deacon. In 1817, 
in the side-alleys of this same Champ de Mars, two great cylin- 
ders of wood might have been seen lying in the rain, rotting 
amid the grass, painted blue, with ti*aces of eagles and bees, 
from which the gilding was falling. These were the columns 
which two years before had upheld the Emperor's platfoim in 
the Champ de Mai. They were blackened here and ther^ with 
the scorches of the bivouac of Austrians encamped near Gros- 
Caillou. TVo or three of these columns had disappeared in 
these bivouac fires, and had warmed the large hands of the 
Imperial troops. The Field of May had this remarkable point : 
that it had been held in the month of June and in the Field of 
March (Mars). In this year, 1817, two things were popular: 
the Voltaire-Touquct and the snuff-box à la Charter. The most 
recent Parisian sensation was the crime of Dautun, who had 
thrown his brother's head into the fountain of the Flower- 

They had begun to feel anxious at the Naval Department, on 
acconntof the lack of news from that fatal frigate, Tlie Medusa^ 
which was destined to cover Chaumareix with infamy and G6ri- 
cault with glory. Colonel Selves was going to Egypt to be- 
come Soliman-Pasha. The palace of Thermes, in the Rue de La 
Harpe, served as a shop for a cooper. On the platform of the 
octagonal tower of the Hotel de Cluny, the little shed of boards, 
which had served as an observatory to Messier, the naval as- 
tronomer under Louis XVI., was still to be seen. The Duchesse 
de Duras read to three or four friends her unpublished Ourika^ 
in her boudoir furnished by X. in sky-blue satin. The N's were 
scratched off the Louvre. The bridge of Austerlitz had abdi- 
cated, and was entitled the bridge of the King's Garden [du 
Jardin du Roi] , a double enigma, which disguised the bridge of 
Ansterlitz and the Jardin des Plantes at one stroke. Louis 
XVIII., much preoccupied while annotating Horace with the 
corner of his finger-nail, heroes who have become emperors, 
and makers of wooden shoes wlio have become dauphins, had 
two anxieties, — Napoleon and Matburin Bmneau. The French 


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Academy had given for its prize subject, Tlie Happiness pro- 
cured through Study, M. Bellart was oliiciall}' eloquent. In 
iiis shadow could be seen germinating that future advocate- 
general of Broë, dedicated to the sarcasms of Paul-Liouis 
Courier. There was a false Chateaubriand, named Marchang^^, 
in the interim, until there should be a false Marchangy, 
named d'Arlincourt. Claire d*Albe and Malek-Adel were 
masterpieces ; Madame Cottin was proclaimed the chief writer 
of the epoch. The Institute had the academician, Napoleon 
Bonaparte, stricken from its list of members. A royal ordi- 
nance erected Angouleme into a naval school ; for the Duo 
d'Angouleme, being lord high admiral, it was evident that the 
city of Angouleme had all the qualities of a seaport ; other- 
wise the monarchical principle would have received a wound. 
In tlie Council of Ministtîrs the question was agitated whether 
vignettes representing slack-rope performances, which adorned 
Franconi's advertising posters, and which attracted throngs of 
street urchins, should be tolerated. M. Paer, the author of 
Agnese^ a good sort of fellow, with a square face and a wart on 
his cheek, directed the little private concerts of the Marquise de 
Sasenaye, in the Rue Ville TÉvcque. AU tlie young girls were 
singing the Hei-mit of Saint-Acelle^ with words by Edmond 
Géraud. Tlie Yellow Dwarf was transferred into Mirror. 
The Café Lemblin stood up for the Emperor, against the Café 
Valois, whicli upheld the Bourbons. The Due de Bern, al- 
ready sui-veyed from the shadow by Louvel, had just been 
married to a princess of Sicily. Madame de Staël had died 
a year previously. The body-guard hissed Mademoiselle Mars. 
The grand newspapers were all very small. Their form was 
restricted, but their liberty was great. The Constitutionnel 
was constitutional. La Minerve called Chateaubriand Chateau- 
briant. That t made the good middle-class people laugh heartily 
at the expense of the great writer. In journals which sold them- 
selves, prostituted journalists, insulted the exiles of 1815. 
David had no longer any talent, Arnault had no longer any 
wit, Carnot was no longer honest, Soult had won no battles ; 
:t is true that Napoleon had no longer any genius. No one is 
ignorant of the fact that letters sent to an exile by post very 
rarely reached him, as the police made it their religious duty to 
intercept them. This is no new fact ; Descartes complained o< 
it in his exile. Now David, liaving, in a Belgian publication, 
shown some displeasure at not receiving letters which had 
been written to him, it struck the royalist journals as amusing; 
and they derided the prescribed man well on this occasion. 


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FANTINB:, \\t 

What separated two men more than an abyss was to say, the 
"egicides^ or to say the voters; to say the vnemies^ or to say the 
allies; to say Napoleon^ or to say Buonaimrte. All sensible 
people were agreed that the era of revolution had been closed 
forever by King Louis XVIII., surnamed "The Immortal 
Author of the Charter." On the platform of the Pont-Neuf, 
the word Redivivus was carved on the pedestal that awaited 
the statue of Henry IV. M. Piet, in the Rue Thérèse, No. 4, 
was making the rough draft of his privy assembly to consolidate 
the monarch}-. The leaders of the Right said at grave conjunc- 
tures, " We must write to Bacot." MM. Cauuel, O'Mahoney, 
and De Chappedelaine were preparing the sketch, to some 
extent with Monsieur's approval, of what was to become later 
on '• The Conspiracy of the Bord de l'Eau" — of the waterside. 
L'Épingle Noire was already plotting in his own quarter. 
Delaverderie was conferring with Trogoff . M. Decazes, who was 
liberal to a degree, reigned. Chateaubriand stood every morn- 
ing at his window at No. 27 Rue Sahit-Dominique, clad in 
footed trousers, and slippers, with a madras kerchief knotted 
over his gray hair, witli his eyes fixed on a mirror, a complete 
set of dentist's instruments spread out before him, cleaning his 
teeth, which were charming, while he dictated llie Monarchy aC' 
cording to the Charter to M. Pilorge, his secretary. Criticism, 
assuming an authoritative tone, preferred Lafon to Talma. 
M. de Féletz signed himself A. ; M. liotFuiann signed himself 
Z. Charles Nodier wrote Tliérèse Anhert. Divorce was abol- 
ished. Lyceums called themselves colleges. The collegians, 
decorated on the collar with a golden fleur-de-lys, fought each 
other aproj)OS of the King of Rome. The counter-police of the 
château hud denounced to her Royal Highness Madame, the 
portrait, everywhere exhibited, of M. the Due d'Orléans, who 
made a Ixîtter appearance in his uniform of a colonel-general 
of hussars than M. the Due de Berri, in his uniform of colonel- 
general of dragoons — a serious inconvenience. The city of 
Paris was having the dome of the Invalides regilded at its own 
expense. Serious men asked themselves what M. de Trinque* 
lague would do on such or such an occasion ; M. Clausel de 
Montais differed on divers points from M. Clausel de Cousser- 
gues; M. de Salaberry was not satisfied. The comedian 
Picard, who belonged to the Academy, which the comedian 
Molière had not been able to do, had Tlie Ttvo Philiherts played 
at the Odéon, upon whose pediment the removal of the letters 
still allowed Tiikatre op the Empuess to be plainly read. 
People took part for or against Cugnet de Montakiot. Fabviel 


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was factious ; Bavoux was revolutionary. The Liberal, Pélicief 
publislicd an edition of Voltaire, with tlie following title*. 
Works of Voltaire, of the French Academy. ''That will 
attract purchasers," said the ingenuous editor. The general 
opinion was that M. Charles Loyson would be the genius of 
the century; envy was beginning to gnaw at him — a sign of 
gloiy; and this verse was composed on him: — 

** £?en when Ix>y8on steals, one feels that he has paws." 

As Cardinal Fesch refused to resign, M. de Pins, Archbishop of 
Amasie, administered the diocese of Lyons. The quarrel over 
the valley of Dappes was begun between Switzerland and France 
by a memoir from Captain, afterwards General, Dufour. Saint • 
Simon, ignored, was erecting his sublime dream. There was a 
celebrated Fourier at the Academy of Science, whom posterity 
has forgotten ; and in some garret an obscure Fourier, whom 
the future will recall. Lord Byron was beginning to make his 
mark; a note to a poem by Mille voye introduced him to France 
in these terms : a certain Lord Baron. David d'Angers was 
trying to work in marble. Tiie Abbé Caron was speaking in 
terms of praise, to a private gathering of seminarists io the 
blind alley of Feuillantines, of an unknown priest, named 
Félicité-Robert, who, at a latter date, became Lamennais. A 
thing which smoked and clattered on the Seine with the noise 
of a swimming dog went and came beneath the windows of the 
Tuileries, from the Pont Royal to the Pont Louis XV. ; it was 
a piece of mechanism which was not good for much ; a sort of 
plaything, the idle dream of a dream-ridden inventor; an 
Utopia — a steamboat. The Parisians stared indifferently at 
this useless tiling. M. de Vaublanc, the reformer of the Insti- 
tute by a coup d'état, the distinguished author of numerous 
academicians, ordinances, and batches of members, after hav- 
ing created them, could not succeed in becoming one himself. 
The Faubourg Saint-Germain and the pavilion de Marsan wished 
to have M. Delaveau for prefect of police, on account of his 
piety. Dupuytren and Récamier entered into a quarrel in the 
amphitheatre of the School of Medicine, and threatened each 
other with their fists on the subject of tlie divinity of Jesus 
Christ. Cuvier, with one eye on Genesis and the other on 
nature, tried to please bigoted reaction by reconciling fossils 
with texts and by making mastodons flatter Moses. 

M. François de Neufchâteau, the praiseworthy cultivator of 
the memory of Parmentier, made a tiiousand efforts to have 
pomme de terre [potato] pronounced ixirmentière, and succeeded 


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therein not at all. The Abbé Grégoire, ex-bishop, ex-conven 
tionarj, ex-senator^ had passed, in the royalist polemics, to the 
state of '^ Infamous Grégoire." The locution of which we have 
made use — passed to the state of — has been condemned as a 
neologism by M. Royer CoUard. Under the third arch of the 
Tont de Jena, the new stone with which, the two years previously, 
the mining aperture made by Blucher to blow up the bridge had 
hien stopped up, was still recognizable on account of its white- 
ness. Justice summoned to its bar a man who, on seeing the 
^)omte d'Artois enter Nôtre Dame, had said aloud : ^^Sapristil 

f regret the time when I saw Bonaparte and Talma enter the Bel 
Sauvage^ arm in arm.** A seditious utterance. Six months in 
prison. Traitors showed themselves unbuttoned ; men who had 
gone over to the enemy on the eve of battle made no secret of 
their recompense, and strutted immodestly in the light of day, 
in tiie cynicism of riches and dignities ; deserters from Ligny 
and Quatre-Bras, in the brazeuness of their well-paid turpitude, 
exhibited their devotion to the monarchy in the most barefaced 

This is what floats up confusedly, pell-mell, for the year 1817. 
and is now forgotten. History neglects nearly all these partic- 
ulars, and cannot do otherwise ; the infinity would overwhelm 
(t. Nevertheless, these details, which are wrongly called trivial,* 

— there are no trivial facts in humanity, nor little leaves in 
regetation, — are useful. It is of the physiognomy of the years 
that the physiognomy of the centuries is composed. In this 
year of 1817 four young Parisians arranged '^ a fine farce.*' 

n.— A Double Quartette. 

These Parisians came, one from Toulouse, another from 
Limites, the third from Cahors, and the fourth from Montau- 
han ; but they were students ; and when one says student, one 
says Parisian : to study in Paris is to be born in Paris. 

These young men were insignificant ; every one has seen such 
faces ; four specimens of humanity taken at random ; neither 
good nor bad, neither wise nor ignorant, neither geniuses nor 
fools; handsome, with that charming April which is called 
twenty j-ears. They were four Oscars ; for, at that epoch, 
Arthurs did not yet exist. Bum for him the perfumes of Arahy ! 
exclaimed romance. Oscar advances. Oscar ^ I shall behold 
him ! People had just emerged from Ossian ; elegance was 
Seaodinavian and Caledonian ; the pure English style was only 


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lo prevail later, and the first of tlie Arthurs, Wellington, haa 
but just won the buttle of Waterloo. 

These Oscars bore the names, one of Felix Tholom^'ès, of 
Toulouse ; the second, Listolier, of Cahors ; the next, Fanieuil, 
of Limoges ; the last, Blachevelle, of Moutauban. Naturally, 
each of them had his mistress. Blachevelle loved Favourite, 
BO named because she had been in England ; Listolier adored 
Dahlia, who had taken for her nickname the name of a flower, 
Fameuil idolized Z^'phine, an abridgment of Joséphine ; Tho- 
lomyès had Fantine, called the Blonde, because of her beautiful, 
sunny hair. 

Favourite, Dahlia, Zéphine, and Fantine were four ravishing 
young women, perfumed and radiant, still a little like working- 
women, and not yet entirely divorced from their needles ; some- 
what disturbed by intrigues, but still retaining on their faces 
something of the serenity of toil, and in their souls that flower 
of honesty which survives the first fall in woman. One of the 
four was called the young, because she was the youngest of 
them, and one was called the old ; the old one was twenty-three. 
Not to conceal anything, the three first were more experienced, 
more heedless, and more emancipated into the tumult of life 
than Fantine the Blonde, who was still in her first illusions. 
• Dahlia, Zéphine, and especially Favourite, could not have said 
as much. Tliere had alrea<ly been more tiian one episode in 
their romance, though hardly begun ; and the lover who had 
borne the name of Adolph in tlie first chapter had turned out to 
be Alphonse in the second, and Gustave in the third. Poverty 
and coquetry arc two fatal counsellors ; one scolds and the other 
flatters, and the beautiful daughters of the people have both of 
them whispering In their ear, each on its own side. These 
badly guarded souls listen. Hence the falls which thcN' accom- 
plish, and the stones which are thrown at them. They are over- 
whelmed with splendor of all that is immaculate and inaccessible. 
Alas ! what if the Jungfrau were hungry ? 

Favourite having been in England, was admired by Dahlia 
and Zéphine. She had had an establishment of her own very 
early in life. Her father was an old unmarried professor of 
mathematics, a brutal man and a braggart, who went out to give 
lessons in spite of his age. This professor, when he was a 
young man, had one day seen a chambermaid's gown catch on 
a fender ; he had fallen in love in consequence of this accident. 
The result had been Favourite. Siie met her father from time 
to time, and he bowed to her. One morning an old woman, with 
the air of a devotee, had entered her apartments, and had said 


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PAN'flNéi. Ill 

CO iier, ** Yoa do not know me, Mademoiselle ? " *' No." ** 1 
un your mother.*' Tlien the old woman opened the sideboard, 
aikI ate and drank, had a mattress whicli slie owned bronght in, 
and installed herself. This cross and pious okl mother never 
spoke to Favourite, remained hours without uttering a word, 
breakfasted, dined, and supped for four, and went down to the 
porter's quarters for company, where she spoke ill of her daugh- 

It was having rosy nails that were too pretty which had drawn 
Dahlia to Listolier, to others perhaps, to idleness. IIow could 
she make such nails work ? She who wishes to remain virtuous 
must not have pity pn her hands. As for Zéphine, she had 
conquered Famenil by her roguish and caressing little way of 
Baying *' Yes, sir." 

The young men were comrades ; the young girls were friends. 
Such loves are always accompanied by such friendships. 

Goodness and philosophy are two distinct tilings ; the proof 
of this is that, after making all due allowances for these little 
irregular households. Favourite, Zéphine, and Dahlia were piiil- 
osophical young women, while Fantine was a good girl. 

Good ! some one will exclaim ; and Tholomyès ? Solomon 
would reply that love forms a part of wisdom. We will confîne 
ourselves to saying that the love of Fantine was a Grst love, a 
sole love, a faithful love. 

She alone, of all the four, was not called " thou " by a single 
one of them. 

Fantine was one of those beings who blossom, so to speak, 
from the dregs of the people. Though she had emerged from 
the most unfathomable depths of social shadow, she bore 
on her brow the sign of the anonymous and the unknown. 
She was born at M. sur M. Of "what parents? Who can 
say? She had never known father or mother. She was called 
Fantine. Why Fantine ? She had never borne any other name. 
At the epoch of her birth the Directory still existed. She had 
no family name ; she had no family ; no baptismal name ; the 
Church no longer existed. She bore the name which pleased 
tiic first random passer-by, who had encountered her, when a 
very small child, running bare-legged in the street. She re- 
ceived the name as she received the water from the clouds upon 
her brow when it rained. She was called little Fantine. No 
one knew more than that. This human creature had entered 
life in just this wa}'. At the age of ten, Fantine quitted thr 
town and went to service with some farmers in the neighbor- 
hood. At fifteen she came to Paris " to seek her fortune.* 


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Fantine was beautiful, and remained pure as long as she could. 
She was a lovely blonde, with fine teeth. She had gold and 
pearls for her dowry ; but her gold was on her head, and her 
pearls were in her mouth. 

She worked for her living ; then, still for the sake of her liv- 
ing, — for the heart, also, has its hunger, — she loved. 

She loved Tholomyès. 

An amour for him ; passion for her. The streets of the Latin 
Quarter, filled with throngs of students and grisettes, saw the 
beginning of their dream. Fantine had long evaded Tholomyès 
in the mazes of the hill of the Pantheon, where so many adven- 
turers twine and untwine, but in such a way as constantly to en- 
counter him again. There is a way of avoiding which resembles 
seeking. In short, the eclogue took place. 

Blachevelle, Listolier and Fameuil formed a sort of group of 
which Tholomyès was the head. It was he who possessed the 

Tholomyès was the antique old student ; he was rich ; he had 
an income of four thousand francs ; four thousand francs ! a 
;;>lendid scandal on Mount Saint-Geneviève. Tholomyès was a 
fast mai. of thirty, and badly preserved. He was wrinkled and 
toothless, and he had the beginning of a bald spot, of which he 
himself said without sadness, the skull at thirty y the knee at forty. 
His digestion was mediocre, and he had been attacked by a 
watering in one eye. But in proportion as his youth disap- 
peared, gayety was kindled ; he replaced his teeth with buf- 
fooneries, his hair with mirth, his health with irony, his weeping 
eye laughed incessantly. He was dilapidated but stiH in flower. 
His youth, which was packing up for departure long before its 
time, beat a retreat in good order, bursting with laughter, and no 
one saw anything but fire. He had had a piece rejected at the 
Vaudeville. He made a few verses now and then. In addition 
to this he doubted everything to the last degree, which is a vast 
force in the eyes of the weak. Being thus ironical and bald, he 
was the leader. Iron is an English word. Is it possible that 
irony is derived from it ? 

One day Tholomyès took the three others aside, with the 
gesture of an oracle, and said to them : — 

'• Fantine, Dahlia, Zephine, and Favourite have been teasing 
us for nearly a year to give them a surprise. We have prom- 
ised them solemnly that we would. They are forever talking 
about it to us, to me in particular, just as the ohl women in 
Naples cry to Saint Januarius, * Fa^ccia gialluta^ fa o miracolo. 
Yellow face, perform thy miracle,' so our beauties say to me 


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ifANTIKJ. lia 

boessantly, ^ Tholomyès, when will you bring forth youi 8a^ 
prise?' At the same time our parents keep writing to as. 
Pressure on both sides. The moment has aiTived, it seems to 
me ; let us discuss the question." 

Thereupon, Tholomyès lowered his voice and articulated some- 
thing so mirthful, that a vast and enthusiastic griii broke out 
Dpon the four mouths simultaneously, and Blachevelle ex- 
claimed, " That is an idea." 

A smoky tap-room presented itself; they entered, and the 
remainder of their confidential colloquy was lost in shadow. 

The result of tliese shades was a dazzling pleasure party 
which took place on the following Sunday, the four young men 
.Miviting the four young girls. 

m. — Four and Pour. 

Iv U bard nowadays to picture to one's self what a pleasure- 
Crip of students and grisettes to the country was like, forty-five 
3'ears ago. The suburbs of Paris are no longer the same ; the 
physiognomy of what may be called circumparisian life has 
changed completely in the last half -century ; where there was 
the cuckoo, tliere is the railway car ; where there was a tender- 
boat, there is now the steamboat; people speak of Fecamp 
nowadays as they spoke of Saint-Cloud in those days. The 
Paris of 1862 is a city which has France for its outskirts. 

The four couples conscientiously went through with all the 
country follies possible at that time. The vacation was begin- 
ning, and it was a warm, bright, summer day. On the pre- 
ceding day. Favourite, the only one who knew how to write, 
had written the following to Tholomyès in the name of the four : 
"It is a good hour to emerge from happiness." That is why 
they rose at five o'clock in the morning. Then they went to 
Saint-Cloud by the coach, looked at the dry cascade and ex- 
claimed, ''This must be very beautiful when there is water ! " 
rhey breakfasted at the Tète-Noire^ where Castaing had not 
yet been ; they treated themselves to a game of ring-throT\ ing 
ander the quincunx of trees of the grand fountain; tliey as- 
cended Diogenes' lantern, they gambled for macaroons at the 
roulette establishment of the Pont de Sèvres, picked bouquets 
at Puteaux, bought reed-pipes at Neuilly, ate apple tarts every- 
where, and were perfectly happy. 

The young girls rustled and chatted like warblers escaped 
from their cage. It was a perfect delirium. From time to 
*.:me they bestowed little taps on the young men. Matutinal 


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iiitoxicatioQ of life ! adorable yeart} ! the wings of the drmgon. 
fly quiver. Oh, whoever you may be, do you not remember? 
Have you rambled through the brushwood, holding aside the 
brauches, on account of the charming head which is coming on 
behind you? Have you slid, laughing, down a slope all wet 
with rain, with a beloved woman holding your hand, and crying, 
'* Ah, my new boots ! what a state they are in ! " 

Let us sa}- at once that that merry obstacle, a shower, was 
lacking in the case of this good-humored party, although 
Favourite had said as they set out, with a magisterial and 
maternal tone, '* TJie slugs are crawling in thepaths, — a sign of 
rain^ children.*' 

All four were madly pretty. A good old classic poet, then 
famous, a good fellow who had an Éléonore, M. le Chevalier de 
Labouisse, as he strolled that day beneath the chestnut-trees 
of Saint-Cloud, saw them pass about ten o'clock in the morning, 
and exclaimed, ** There is one too many of them," as he thought 
of the Graces. Favourite, Blachevelle's friend, the one aged 
three and twenty, the old one, ran on in front under the great 
green boughs, jumped tiie ditches, stalked distractedl}' over 
bushes, and presided over this merry-making with the spirit of 
a young female faun. Zéphinc and Dahlia, whom chance had 
made beautiful in such a way that they set each off when they 
were together, and completed each other, never left each other, 
more from an instinct of coquetry than from friendship, and 
clinging to each otiier, they assumed English poses ; the first 
keepsakes had just made their api)earance, melancholy was 
dawning for women, as later on, Byronism dawned for men ; 
and the hair of the tender sex began to droop dolefully. 
Zéphine and Dahlia had their hair dressed in rolls. Listolier 
and Fameuil, who were engaj^ed in discussing their professors, 
exj)lained to Fautinc the difference that existed between M. 
Del v incourt and M. Blondeau. 

Blachevelle seemed to have been created expressly to carry 
Favourite's single-bordered, imit:ition India shawl of Ternaux's 
manufacture, on his arm on Sundays. 

Tholomyès followed, dominating the group. He was very 
gay, but one felt tiie force of government in him ; there was 
dictation in his joviality ; liis principal ornament was a pair of 
trousers of elephant-leg pattern of nankeen, with straps of 
braided copper wire ; he carried a stout rattan worth two hundred 
francs in his hand, and, as ho treated iiimself to everything, a 
strange thii;g called a cigar in his mouth. Nothing was sacred 
to him ; he smoked. 


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*^ That Tholomyès is astounding ! " said the others, with 
veneration. ** What trousers ! What energy ! ''* 

As for Fantine, she was a joy to behold. Her splendid teeth 
had evidently received an otiice from God, — laughter. She 
preferred to carry her httle hat of sewed straw, with its long 
white strings, in her hand rather than on her head. Her thick 
blond hair, which was inclined to wave, and which easily 
uncoiled, and which it was necessary to fasten up incessantly, 
seemed made for the flight of Galatea under the willows. Her 
rosy lips babbled enchantingly. The corners of her mouth 
voluptuously turned up, as in the antique masks of Erigone, 
bad an air of encouraging the audacious ; but her long, shadowy 
lashes drooped discreetly over the jollity of the lower part of 
the face as though to call a halt. There was soncething inde- 
scribably harmonious and striking about her entire dress. She 
wore a gown of mauve barège, little reddish brown buskins, 
whose ribbons traced an X on her fine, white, open-worked 
stockings, and that sort of muslin spencer, a Marseilles inven- 
tion, whose name, canezou^ a corruption of the words quinze 
a4>ût pronounced after the fashion of the Canebière, signifies 
fine weather, heat, and midday. The three others, less timid, 
as we have already said, wore low-necked dresses without dis- 
guise, which in summer^ beneath flower-adorned hats, are very 
graceful and enticing ; but by the side of these audacious out- 
fits, blond Fantine's canezou, with its transparencies, its indis- 
cretion, and its reticence, concealing and displaying at one and 
the same time, seemed an alluring godsend of decency, and the 
famous Court of Love, presided over by the Vicomtesse de 
Cette, with the sea-gieen eyes, would, perhaps, have awarded 
the prize for coquetry to this canezou, in the contest for the 
prize of modesty. The most ingenuous is, at times, the wisest. 
This does hapi)en. 

Brilliant of face, delicate of profile, with eyes of a deep blue^ 
heavy lids, feet arched and small, wrists and ankles admirably 
formed, a white skin which, here and there allowed the azure 
branching of the veins to be seen, joy, a cheek that was young 
and fresh, the robust throat of the Juno of ^gina, a strong and 
supple nape of the neck, shoulders modelled as though by Cous- 
tou, with a voluptuous dimple in the middle, visible through the 
iDQslin ; a gajety cooled by dreaminess ; sculptural and exquis- 
ite — such was Fantine ; and beneath these feminine adornments 
find these ribbons one could divine a statue, and in that statue 
a soul. 

Fantine was beautiful, without being too conscious of it. 


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Thoee rare dreamers, mysterious priests of the beautifi wbo 
silently confront everything with perfection, would have caught 
a glimpse in this little working- worn an, through the transpart ncy 
of her Parisian grace, of the ancient sacred euphony. This 
daughter of the shadows was thoroughbred. She was beautiful 
in the two ways — style and rhythm. Style is the form of the 
ideal ; rhythm is its movement. 

We have said that Fantine was joy ; she was also modesty. 

To an observer who studied her attentively, that which 
breathed from her athwart all the intoxication of her age, the 
season, and her love affair, was an invincible expression of re- 
serve and modest}'. She remained a little astonished. This 
chaste astonishment is the shade of difference which separates 
Psyche from Venus. Fantine had the long, white, fine fingeis 
of the vestal virgin who stirs the ashes of the sacred fire with a 
golden pin. Although she would have refused nothing to Tho- 
lomyés, as we shall have more than ample opportunitv to see, 
her face in repose was supremely Virginia! ; a sort of serious and 
almost austere dignity suddenly overwhelmed her at certain times, 
and there was nothing more singular and disturbing than to see 
gayety become so suddenly extinct there, and meditation succeed 
to cheerfulness without any transition state. This sudden aud 
sometimes severely accentuated gravity resembled the disdain 
of a goddess. Her brow, her nose, her chin, presented that 
equilibrium of outline which is quite distinct from equilibrium 
of proportion, and from which harmony of countenance results ; 
in the very characteristic interval which separates the base of 
the nose from the upper lip, she had that imperceptible and 
charming fold, a mysterious sign of chastity, which makes Bar- 
bcrousse fall in love with a Diana found in the treasures of 

Love is a fault ; so be it. Fantine was innocence floating 
high over fault. 

iV. — Tholomtès is so Merrt that he sinqs a Spamisb 


That day was composed of dawn, from one end to the other. 
Ali nature seemed to be having a holiday, and to be laughing. 
The flower-beds of Saint-Cloud perfumed the air ; the breath of 
^Cî Seine rustled the leaves vaguely ; the branches gesticulated 
in the wind, bees pillnged the jasmines ; a whole bohemia of 
butterflies swooped down upon the yarrow, the clover, and tli« 


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sterile oats ; in the august park of the King of France thers 
was a pack of vagabonds, the birds. - 

The four merry couples, mingled with the sun, the fields, the 
flowers, the trees, were resplendent. 

And in this community' of Paradise, talking, singing, running, 
dancing, chasing butterflies, plucking convolvulus, wetting their 
pink, open-work stockings in the tall grass, fresh, wild, without 
malice, all received, to some extent, the kisses of all, with the 
exception of Fan tine, who was hedged about with that vague 
resistance of hers composed of dreaminess and wildness, and 
who was in love. "You always have a queer look about you," 
said Favourite to her. 

Such things are joys. These passages of happy couples are 
a profound appeal to life and nature, and make a caress and 
light spring forth froni everything. There was once a fairy 
who created the fields and forests expressly for those in love, — 
in that eternal hedge-school of lovers, which is forever be- 
ginning anew, and which will last as long as there are hedges 
«od scholars. Hence the populaiity of spring among thinkers. 
The patrician and the knife-grinder, the duke and the peer, the 
limb of the law, the courtiers and townspeople, as they used to 
lay in olden times, all are subjects of this fairy. They laugh 
and hunt, and there is in the air the brilliance of an apotheosis — 
what a transfiguration effected by love ! Notaries' clerks are 
gods. And the little cries, the pursuits through the grass, the 
waists embraced on the fly, those jargons which are melodies, 
those adorations which burst forth in the manner of pronounc- 
ing a syllable, those cherries torn from one mouth by another, 
—all thi4 blazes forth and takes its place among the celestial 
glories. Beautiful women waste themselves sweetly. They 
think thftt this will never come to an end. Philosophers, poets, 
painters, observe these ecstasies and know not what to make of 
it, so greatly are they dazzled by it. The departure for Cythe- 
ra ! exclaims Watteau ; Lancret, the painter of plebeians, eon- 
templates his bourgeois, who have flitted away into the azure 
iky ; Diderot stretches out his arms to all these love idyls, and 
d'Urfé mingles druids with them. 

After breakfast the four couples went to what was then called 
the King's Squarg to see a newly arrived plant from India, whose 
name escapes our memory at this moment, and which, at that 
epoch, was attracting all Paris to Saint-Cloud. It was an odd 
and charming shrub with a long stem, whose numerous branches, 
bristling and leafless and as fine as threads, were covered with 
a miUioQ tiny white rosettes ; this gave the shrub the air of a 


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Head oi hair studded with flowers. There was always an admif 
ing crowd about it. 

After viewing the shrub, ïholomyès exclaimed, " I offer yoM 
asses ! " and having agreed upon a price with the owner of the 
asses, they returned by way of Vanvres and Issy. At Issy an 
incident occurred. The ti'uly national park, at that time owned 
by Bourguin the contractor, happened to be wide open. They 
passed the gates, visited the manikin anchorite in his grotto, 
tried the mysterious little effects of the famous cabinet of mir- 
rors, the wanton trap worthy of a satyr become a millionnaire or 
of Turcaret metamorphosed into a Priapus. They had stoutly 
shaken the swing attached to the two chestnut-trees celebrated 
by the Abbé de Bernis. As he swung these beauties, one after 
the other, producing folds in the fluttering skirts which Grcuze 
would have found to his taste, amid peals of laughter, the Tou- 
lousan Tholomyès, who was somewhat of a Spaniard, Toulouse 
being the cousin of Tolosa, sang, to a melancholy chant, the 
old ballad gallega, probably inspired by some lovely maid dash' 
ing in full flight upon a rope between two trees : — 

''Soy de Badajoz, ^'Badajoz is my home. 
Amor me llama. And Love U my name; 

Toda ml alma. To my eyes in flame, 

Es en mi ojos, All my soul doth come; 

Porque enseSas, For instruction meet 

A tuas piernas. I receive at thy feet** 

Fantine alone refused to swing. 

*'I don't like to have people put on airs like that," mattered 
Favourite, with a good deal of acrimony. 

After leaving the asses there was a fresh delight ; they crossed 
the Seine in a boat, and proceeding from Passy ou foot they 
reached the barrier of l'Étoile. They had been up since five 
o'clock that morning, as the reader will remember; but bah! 
*Âere is 710 such thing as fatigue on Sunday^ said Favourite ; 
on Sunday fatigue does not work. 

About three o'clock the four couples, frightened at their hap- 
piness, were sliding down the Russian mountains, a singulai 
edifice which then occupied the heights of Beaujon, and whose 
undulating line was visible above the trees of the Champs 

From time to time Favourite exclaimed : — 

*' And the surprise? I claim the surpri»e." 

** Patience," replied Tholomyès. 


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FANTtNE. 1» 

V, — At Bombarda'8. 

The Russian mountains having been exhaiiBted, they began to 
think about dinner ; and the radiant party of eight, somewhat 
weary at last, became stranded in Bombaitla's public house, a 
^)rânch establishment which had been set up in the Champs- 
Elysées by that famous restanrant-keepcr, Bombarda, whop«' 
âis:n could then be seen in the Rue de Rivoli, near Delorme 

A large but ugly room, with an alcove and a bed at the end 
(they had been obliged to put up with this accommodation in 
view of the Sunday crowd) ; two windows whence they could 
Hurvey beyond the elms, the quay, and the river ; a magnificent 
August sunlight lightly touching the panes ; two tables ; upon 
«•ne of them a triumphant mountain of bouquets, mingled with 
ihe hats of men and of women ^, at the other the four couples 
seated round a merry confusion of plattei-s, dishes, glasses, and 
wttles ; jugs of beer mingled with flasks of wine ; very little 
order on the table, some disorder beneath it ; 

** They made beneath the table 
A noise, a clatter of the feet that was abommable," 

says Molière. 

This was the state which the shepherd idyl, begun at five 
o'clock in the morning, had reached at half -past four in the 
iftemoon. The sun was setting ; their appetites were satisfied. 

The Champs-Elysées, filled with sunshine and with people, 
were nothing but light and dust, the two things of which glory 
is composed. The horses of Marly, those neighing marbles, 
were prancing in a cloud of gold. Carriages were going and 
coming. A squadron of magnificent body-guaids, with their 
clarions at their head, were descending the Avenue de Neuilly ; 
*he white flag, showing faintly rosy in the setting sun, fiouied 
ner the dome of the Tuileries. The Place de la Concorde, 
fc'hich had become the Place Louis XV. once more, was choked 
with happ3' promenaders. Many wore the silver fleur-de-lys 
daspended from the white-watered ribbon, which had not yet 
wholly disappeared from button -holes in the year 1817. Here 
and there choruses of little girls threw to the winds, amid the 
passers-by, who formed into circles and ai)plauded, the then 
celebrated Bourbon air, which was destined to strike the Hun- 
^fed Days with lightning, and which had for its refrain ; — 


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" Rendez-nous notre père de Gand, 
Rendez-nous noire père.*' 

"Give us back our fatlier from Ghent, 
Give us back our father/* 

Groups of dwellers in the suburbs, in Sunday array, some* 
times even decorated with the fleur-de-lys, like the boui^eois, 
scattered over the large square and the Mariguy square, were 
playing at rings and revolving on the wooden horses ; otliers 
were engaged in drinking ; some journeyman printers had on 
paper caps ; their laughter was audible. Everything was 
radiant. It was a time of undisputed peace and profound roy- 
alist security ; it was the epoch when a special and private 
report of Chief of Police Angles to the King, on the subject of 
the suburbs of Paris, terminated with these lines : — 

'* Taking all things into consideration, Sire, there is nothing 
to be feared from these people. The}* are as heedless and as 
indolent as cats. The populace is restless in the provinces ; it 
is not in Paris. These are very petty men. Sire. It would 
take all of two of thom to make one of your grenadiers. There 
id nothing to be feared on the part of the populace of Paris the 
capital. It is remarkable that the stature of this [X)pulation 
should have diminished in the last fifty years ; and the populace 
of the suburbs is still more puny than at the time of the Revo- 
lution. It is not dangerous. In short, it is an amiable rabble." 

Prefects of police do not deem it possible that a cat can 
transform itself into a lion ; that does happen, however, and in 
that lies the miracle wrought by the populace of Paris. More- 
over, the cat so despised by Couut Angles possessed the esteem 
of the republics of old. In their eyes it was liberty incarnate; 
and as though to serve as pendant to the Minerva Aptera of the 
Piraeus, there stood on the pubUc square in Corinth the colos- 
sal bronze figure of a cat. The ingenuous police of the Restora- 
tion beheld the i)opulace of Paris in too " rose -colored " a light • 
it is not so much of * ' an amiable rabble " as it is thought. The 
Parisian is to the Frenchman what the Athenian was to the 
Greek : no one sleeps more soundly than he, no one is more 
frankly frivolous and lazy than he, no one can better assume 
the ah' of forgetfulness ; Let him not be trusted, nevertheless ; 
he is ready for any sort of cool deed ; but when there is glory 
at the end of it, he is worthy of admiration in every sort of 
fury. Give him a pike, he will produce the 10th of August; 
give him a gun, you will have Austerlitz. He is Napoleon's 
stay, and Danton's resource. Is it a question of country, he 


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enlists ; is it a question of liberty, he tears up the pavements. 
Beware ! his hair, filled with wrath, is epic ; his blouse drapes 
itself like the folds of a ehlamys. Take care ! he will make of 
the first Rue Greuétat which comes to hand Caudine Forks. 
When the hour strikes, this man of the faubourgs will grow in 
statare ; this little man will arise, and his gaze will be terrible, 
and his breath will become a tempest, and there will issue forth 
from that slender chest enough wind to disarrange the folds of 
the Alps. It is, thanks to the suburban man of Paris, that the 
Revolution, mixed with arms, conquers Europe. He sings ; it is 
his 'delight. Proportion his song to his nature, and you will 
sec ! As long as he has for refrain nothing but la Carmagnole^ 
he only overthrows Louis XVI. ; make him sing the Marseillaise^ 
and he will free the world. 

This note jetted down on the margin of Angles' report, we will 
return to our four couples. The dinner, as we have said, was 
drawing to its close. 

VI- — A Chapter in which they adore Each Other. 

Chat at tabic, the chat of love ; it is as impossible to repro- 
duce one as the other ; the chat of love is a cloud ; the chat at 
table is smoke. 

Fameuil and Dahlia were humming. Tholomyès was drink- 
ing. Zéphine was laughing, Fantine smiling, Listolier blow- 
ing a wooden trumpet which he had purchased at Saint-Cloud. 

Favonrite gazed tenderly at Blachevelle and said : — 

" Blachevelle, I adore you." 

This called forth a question from Blachevelle : — 

*' What would you do. Favourite, if I were to cease to love 

"I !" cried Favourite. "Ah ! Do not say that even in jest ! 
If you were to cease to love me, I would spring after you, I 
would scratch you, I should rend you, I would throw yon into 
the water, I would have you arrested." 

Blachevelle smiled with the voluptuous self-conceit of a man 
who is tickled in his self-love. Favourite resumed : — 

"Yes, I would scream to the police ! Ah ! I should not re- 
strain myself, not at all ! Rabble ! " 

Blachevelle threw himself back in his chair, in an ecstasy, 
and closed both eyes proudly. 

Dahlia, as she ate, said in a low voice to Favourite, amid the 


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^'So you really idolize biin deeply, that Blachevelle ot 
youra ? " 

^^ I? I detest him/' replied Favourite in the same tone, seizing 
her fork again. **lle is avaricious. I love the little fellow 
opposite me in my house. He is very nice, tiiat young man ; dc 
you know him? One can see that he is an actor by profession. 
I love actors. As soon as he comes in, his mother sajs to him : 
' Ah ! mon Dieu ! my peace of mind is gone. There he goes 
with his shouting. But, my dear, you are splitting my head ! 
So he goes up to rat-ridden garrets, to black holes, as high as 
he can mount, and there he sets to singing, declaiming, how do 
I know what ? so that he can be heard down stairs ! He earns 
twenty sous a day at an attorney's by penning quibbles. He ia 
the son of a former precentor of 8aint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas. 
Ah ! he is very nice. He idolizes me so, that one day when he 
saw me making batter for some pancakes, he said to me : ^ -Mam 
selle^ make your gloves into fritters^ and I will eat them.* It is 
only artists who can say such tilings as that. Ah ! he is very 
)iice. I am in a fair way to go out of my head over that little 
fellow. Never mind ; I tell Blachevelle that I adore him — how 
Ilie! Hey! How I do lie !" 

Favourite paused, and then went on : — 

^^1 am sad, you see. Dahlia. It has done nothing but rain 
all summer ; the wind irritates me ; the wind does not abate. 
Blachevelle is very stingy ; there are hardly any green peas in 
the market ; one does not know what to eat. I have the spleen^ 
as the English say, butter is so dear ! and then you see it is 
liorril)le, here we are dining in a room with a bed in it, and that 
flisgusts me with life." 

Vn. — The Wisdom of Tholomtès. 

In the meantime, while some sang, the rest talked together 
tumultuously all at once ; it was no longer anything but noise. 
Fholomyès intervened. 

" Let us not talk at random nor too fast," he exclaimed. " Jau 
HB reflect, if we wish to be brilliant. Too much improvisation 
empties the mind in a stupid wsiy. Running beer gathers no 
froth. No haste, gentlemen. Let us mingle majesty with the 
feast. Let us eat with meditation ; let us make haste slowly. 
Let us not hurry. Consider the sprin<^time ; if it makes haste, 
Jt is done for ; that is to say. it gets frozen. . Excess of zeal 
ruins peaoh-trees and apricot-trees. Excess of zeal kills the 


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grace and the mirth of good dinners. No seal, gentlemen ! 
Grimed de la Ilt*ynière agrees with Talleyrand." 

A lioUow sound of rebellion rumbled througii the group. 

'* Leave us in jxiaee, Tholomyès," said Blachevelle. 

"Down with the tyrant!" said Famenil. 

^^ Bombarda, Bombance, and Bambochel !" cried Listolier. 

*' Sunday exists," resumed Fameuil. 

" We are sober," added Listolier. 

'^Tholomyès," remarked Blachevelle, ''contemplate my calm 
^aess {mon calme],*' 

" You are the Marquis of that," retorted Tholomyès. 

This mediocre play upon words produced the effect of a 
stone in a pool. The Marquis de Montcalm was at that time a 
celebrated royalist. All the frogs held their peace. 

*^ Friends," cried Tholomyès, with the accent of a man who 
had recovered his empire, "come to yourselves. This pun 
which has fallen from the skies must not be received with too 
mach stupor. Everything which falls in that way is not neces- 
sarily worthy of enthusiasm and respect. The pun is the dung 
of the mind which soars. The jest falls, no matter where ; and 
the mind after producing a piece of stupidity plunges into the 
azure depths. A whitish speck flattened against the rock does 
not prevent the condor from soaring aloft. Far be it from me 
to insnlt the pun ! I honor it in proportion to its merits ; noth- 
ing more. AH the most august, the most sublime, the most 
charming of humanity, and perhaps outside of humanity, have 
made puns. Jesus Christ made a pun on Saint Peter, Moses 
on Isaac, JEschylus on Polynices, Cleopatra on Octavius. 
And observe that Cleopatra's pun preceded the battle of Ac- 
tium, and that had it not been for it, no one would have remem- 
bered the city of Toryne, a Greek name which signifies a ladle. 
That once conceded, I return to my exhortation. I repeat, 
brothers, I repeat, no zeal, no hubbub, no excess ; even in witti- 
cisms, gayety, jollities, or plays on words. Listen to me. I 
have the prudence of Amphiaraus and the baldness of Ccesar. 
There must be a limit, even to rebuses. Est modus in rebus. 

*' There must be a limit, even to dinners. You are fond of 
apple turnovers, ladies ; do not indulge in them to excess. 
Even in the matter of turnovers, good sense and art are requi- 
site. Gluttony chastises the glutton, Gula punit Gulax. Indi- 
gestion is charged by the good God with preaching morality to 
stomachs. And remember this : each one of our passions, even 
love, has a stomach which must not be filled too full. In all 
things the word finis must be written in good season ; self- con- 


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trol must be exercised when the matter becomes urgent; the 
bolt must be drawn on appetite ; one must set one's own fantasy 
to the violin, and carry one's self to tlie post. The sage is the 
man who knows how, at a given moment, to effect his own 
arrest. Have some confidence in me, for I have succeeded to 
some extent in my study of the law, according to the verdict of 
my examinations, for I know the difference between tlie ques- 
tion put and tlie question pending, for I have sustained a thesis 
in Latin ui)on the manner in which torture was administered at 
Rome at the epoch when Munatius Démens was quaBstor of the 
Parricide ; because I am going to be a doctor, apparently it does 
not follow that it is absolutely necessary that I should be an 
imbecile. I recommend you to moderation in your desires. It 
is true that my name is Félix Tholomyès ; I speak well. Happy- 
is he who, when the hour strikes, takes a heroic resolve, and 
abdicates like Sylla or Origenes." 

Favourite listened with profound attention. 

'^ Félix," said she, '' what a pretty word 1 I love that name. 
It is Latin ; it means prosper." 

Tholorayès went on : — 

" Quirites, gentlemen, caballeros, my friends. Do you wish 
never to feel the prick, to do without the nuptial bed, and to 
6rave love? Nothing more simple. Here is the receipt : lem- 
onade, excessive exercise, hard labor ; work yourself to death, 
irag blocks, sleep not, hold vigil, gorge yourself with nitrous 
oeverages, and potions of nymphaeas ; drink emulsions of poppies 
and agnus castus ; season this with a strict diet, starve youreelf , 
and add thereto cold baths, girdles of herbs, the application of 
a plate of lead, lotions made with the subacetate of lead, and 
fomentations of oxycrat." 

''1 prefer a woman," said Listolier. 

''Woman," resumed Tholomyès ; '' distrust . her. Woe to 
him who yields himself to the unstable heart of woman ! 
Woman is perfidious and disingenuous. She detests the 8eri)ent 
from professional jealousy. The serpent is the shop over the 

*' Tholomyès ! " cried Blachevelle, " you are drunk ! " 

" Pardieu," said Tholomyès. 

'' Then be gay," resumed Blachevelle. 

*' I agree to that," responded Tholomyès. 

And, refilling his glass, he rose. 

''Glory to wine! Nunc te y Bacche, canam! Pardon me, 
ladies ; that is Spanish. And the proof of it, seîîoras, is this . 
like people, like cask. The arrobe of Castille contains sixteei/ 


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i^ AN TINE. 131 

liti-es ; the cantaro of Alicante, twelve ; the almude of the Caua« 
ries, twenty -five; the cuartin of the Balearic Isles, twenty-six; 
the boot of Tzar Peter, thirty. Long live that Tzar who waa 
great, and long live his boot, whicli was still greater ! Ladies, 
take the advice of a friend ; make a mistake in your neighbor 
if you see fit. The property of love is to err. A love affair is 
not made to crouch down and brutalize itself like an English 
serving-maid who has callouses on her knees from scrubbing. 
It is not made for that ; it errs gayly, our gentle love. It has 
been said, error is human ; I say, error is love. Ladies, I idol- 
ize you all. O Zéphine, O Joséphine ! face more than irregular, 
you would be charming were you not all askew. You have the 
air of a pretty face upon which some one has sat down by mis- 
take. As for Favourite, O nymphs and muses ! one day when 
Blachevelle was crossing the gutter in the Rue Guérin-Boisseau, 
he espied a beautiful girl with white stockings well drawn up, 
which displayed her legs. This prologue pleased him, and 
Blachevelle fell in love. The one he loved was Favourite. O 
Favourite, thou hast Ionian lips. There was a Greek painter 
named Euphorion, who was surnamed the painter of the lips. 
That Greek alone would have been worthy to paint thy mouth. 
Listen ! before thee, there was never a creature worthy of the 
name. Thou wert made to receive the apple like Venus, or to 
eat it like Eve ; beauty begins with thee. I have just referred 
to Eve ; it is thou who hast created her. Thou deservest the 
letters-patent of the beautiful woman. O Favourite, I cease to 
address you as 'thou,' because I pass from poetry to prose. 
You were speaking of my name a little while ago. That 
touched me ; but let us, whoever we may be, distrust names. 
The}' may delude us. I am called Félix, and I am not happy. 
Words are liars. Let us not blindly accept the indications 
which they afford us. It would be a mistake to write to Liège ' 
for corks, and to Pau for gloves. Miss Dahlia, were I in your 
place, I would call myself Rosa. A flower should smell sweet, 
and woman should have wit. I say nothing of Fan tine ; she is 
a dreamer, a musing, thoughtful, pensive person ; she is a 
phantom possessed of the form of a nymph and the modesty- of 
a nun, who has strayed into the life of a grisette, but who takes 
refuge in illusions, and who sings and prays and gazes into the 
azure without very well knowing what she sees or what she is 
doing, and who, with her eyes fixed on heaven, wanders in a 
garden where there are more birds than are in existence. O 

1 Liège: a cork-tree. Pau: a jest on peat/, skin. 

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Fautiue, know this : I, Tholomyès, I am an illusion ; but sht 
does not even hear me, that blond maid of Chimeras ! as for 
the rest, everything about her is freshness, suavity, youth, 
sweet morning light. O Fantine, maid worthy of being called 
Marguerite or Pearl, you are a woman from the beauteous 
Orient. Ladies, a second p»eee of advice : do not marr}' ; mar- 
riage is a graft ; it takes well or ill : avoid that risk. But bah Î 
what am I. saying? I am wasting ray words. Girls are incurable 
on the subject of marriage, and all that we wise men can say 
will not prevent the waistcoat-maker? and the shoe-stitchers 
from dreaming of husbands studded with diamonds. Well, so 
be it ; but, my beauties, remember this, you eat too much sugar. 
You have but one fault, O woman, and that i8 nibbling sugar. 
O nibbling sex, your pretty little white t^eth adore sugar. 
Now, heed me well, sugar is a salt. All salts are withering. 
Sugar is the most desiccating of all salts ; it sucks the liquids of 
the blood through the veins ; hence tlie coagulation, and then the 
solidification of the blood ; hence tubercles in the lungs, hence 
death. That is why diabetes borders on consumption. 'I hen- 
do not crunch sugar, and you will live. I turn to the men? 
gentlemen, make conquest, rob each other of your well-belove^ 
without remorse. Chassez across. In love there are no frienfi^ 
Everywhere where there is a pretty woman hostility is open 
No quarter, war to the death ! a pretty woman is a casus belli I 
a pretty woman is flagrant misdemeanor. All the invasions o( 
history have been determined by petticoats. Woman is man*tf 
right. Romulus cairied off the Sabines ; William carried off th* 
Saxon women ; Cœsar carried off the Roman women. The maw 
who is not loved soars like a vulture over the mistresses of other 
Juen ; and for my own part, to all those unfortunate men wh<^ 
are widowers, I throw the sublime proclamation of Bonaparte 
to the army of Italy : '' Soldiers, you are in need of everything; 
the enemy has it." 

Tholomyès paused. 

*'Take breath, Tholomyès," said Blachevelle. 

At the same moment, Blachevelle, supported by Listolief 
and Fameuii, struck up to a plaintive air, one of those studio 
songs composed of the first words which come to hand, rhymed 
richly and not at all, as destitute of sense as the gesture of the 
tree and the sound of the wind, which have their birth in the 
vapor of pipes, and are dissipated and take their flight with 
them. This is the couplet by which the group replied to Tholo 
myès' harangue : — 


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•'The father turkey-cocks so grar* 
Some money to an agent gave, 
That master good Clermont-Tonnerre 
Might be made pope on Saint Jotms' day fair. 
But this good Clermont could not be 
Made pope, because no priest was he ; 
And then their agent, whose wrath burned, 
With all their money back returned." 

This was not calculated to calm Tholorayès' improvisation ; 
he emptied his glass, filled, refilled it, and began again : — 

'* Down with wisdom ! Forget all that I have said. Let us 
De neither prudes nor prudent men nor prudhommes. 1 pro- 
I)ose a toast to mirth ; be merry. Let us complete our course 
of law by folly and eating ! Indigestion and the digest. Let 
Justinian be the male, and Feasting, the female ! Joy in the 
depths ! Live, O creation ! The world is a great diamond. I 
am happy. The birds are astonishing. What a festival every- 
where ! The nightingale is a gratuitous Elleviou. Summer, I 
salute thee ! O Luxembourg ! O Georgics of the Rue Madame 
and of the Allée de l'Observatoire ! O pensive infantry soldiers ! 
all those charming nurses who, while they guard the children, 
amuse themselves ! The pampas of America would please me 
if J had not the arcades of the Odéon. My soul flits away into 
the virgin forests and to the savannas. All is beautiful. The 
flies buzz in the sun. The sun has sneezed out the humming 
bird. Embrace me, Fantine ! " 

He made a mistake and embraced Favourite. 

Vin. — The Death of a Horse. 

" The dinners are better at Édon's than at Bombarda's," ex- 
claimed Zéphine. 

*' 1 prefer Bombarda to Édon," declared Blachevelle. ''There 
is more luxury. It is more Asiatic. Look at the room dowii- 
stauïî ; there are miiTors [glaceti] on the walls." 

" I prefer them [glaces^ ices] on my plate," said Favourite. 

Bkchevelle persisted : — 

*' Look at the knives. The handles are of silver at Bom 
barda's and of bone at Édon's. Now, silver is more valuable 
than bone." 

" Except for those who have a silver chin," observed Tholo- 

He was looking at the dome of the Invalides, which was visi- 
ble from Bombarda's windows. 


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A pause ensued. 

" Tholomyès," exclaimed Fameuil^ " Listolier and I were 
having a discussion just now." 

'' A discussion is a good thing/' replied Tholomjès ; ** a quar« 
rel is better." 

'* We were disputing about philosophy." 


*' Which do you prefer, Descartes or Spinoza?'* 

*' Désaugiers," said Tholomyès. 

This decree pronounced, he took a drink, and went on ! — 

" I consent to live. All is not at an end on earth since wft 
can still talk nonsense. For that I return thanks to the immor- 
tal gods. We lie. One lies, but one laughs. One affirms, 
but one doubts. The unexpected bursts forth from the syllo- 
gism. That is fine. There are still human beings here below 
who know how to open and close the surprise box of the para- 
dox merrily. This, ladies, which you are drinking with so 
tranquil an air is Madeira wine, you must know, from the 
vineyard of Coural das Freiras, which is three hundred and 
seventetiu fathoms above the level of the sea. Attention while 
you drink ! three hundred and seventeen fathoms ! and Mon- 
sieur Bombarda, the magnificent eating-house keeper, gives you 
those tln*ee hundred and seventeen fathoms for four francs and 
fifty centimes." 

Again Fameuil interrupted him : — 

'' Tholomyès, your opinions fix the law. Who is your fayorite 

"Ber— *• 


"No; Choux.*' 

And Tholomyès continued ; — 

''Honor to Bombarda! Ile would equal Munophis of Elc- 
phanta if he could but get me an Indian dancing-girl, and Thy- 
gelion of Chaeronea if he could bring me a Greek courtesan ; 
for, oh, ladies ! there were Bombaidiis in Greece and in Egypt, 
^pnleuis tells us of them. Alas ! always the same, and nothing 
new ; nothing more unpublished by the creator in creation Î 
Nil sub sole novum^ says Solomon ; aynor omnibus idem^ says 
Virgil ; and Carabine mounts with Caral^in into "the bark at 
Saint-Cloud, as Aspasia embarked with Pericles uix)n the fleet 
at Samos. One last word. Do you know what Aspasia was, 
ladies? Although she lived at an epoch when women had, as 
yet, no soul, she was a soul; a soul of a rosy and purple hue, 
more ardent hued than fire, fresher than the dawn. Aspasia was a 


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treature in whom the two extremes of womanhood met; she 
vras the goddess prostitute ; Socrates plus Manon Lescaut. 
Aspasia was created in case a mistress should he needed for 

Tholomyès, once started, would have found some difficulty in 
stopping, had not a horse fallen down upon the quay just at that 
moment. The shock caused the cart and the orator to come to 
a (lead halt. It was a. Beauceron mare, old and thin, and one 
fit for the knacker, which was dragging a very heavy cart. On 
arriving in front of Bombarda's, the worn-out, exhausted beast 
had refused to proceed any further. This incident attracted a 
crowd. Hardly had the cursing and indignant carter had time 
to utter with proper energy the sacramental word, Mâtin (the 
jade), backed up with a pitiless cut of the whip, when the jade 
fell, never to rise again. On hearing the hubbub made by the 
passers-by, Tholomyès' merry auditors turned their heads, and 
Tholomyès took advantage of the opportunity to bring his alio- 
cation to a close with this melancholy strophe : — 

'* Elle était de ce inonde ou coucous et carrosses ^ 
Ont le même destin ; 
Et, rosse, elle a vécu ce que vivent les rostet, 
L'espace d'un mâtin I " 

" Poor horse ! " sighed Fantine. 

And Dahlia exclaimed : — 

'* There is Fantine on the point of crying over horses. How 
can one be such a pitiful fool as that ! " 

At that moment Favoui'ite, folding her arms and throwing her 
head back, looked resolutely at Tholomyès and said : — 

"Come, now! the surprise?" 

"Exactly. The moment has arrived," replied Tholomyès. 
*' Gentlemen, the hour for giving these ladies a surprise has 
struck. Wait for us a moment, ladies." 

** It begins with a kiss," said Blaclievelle. 

"On the brow," added Tholomyès. 

Each gravely bestowed a kiss on his mistress's brow ; then 
all four filed oat through the door, with their fingers on their 

Favourite clapped her hands on their departure. 

" It is beginning to be amusing already," said she. 

"Don't be too long," murmured Fantine; "we are waiting 
for you." 

^ She belonged to that circle where cuckoos and carriages share the same 
fate; and a jade herself, she lived, as jades live, for the space of a mominii 
lor Jade). 


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EX. — A Merry End to Mirth. 

When the young girls were left alone, they leaned two bj 
two on the window-sills, chatting, craning out their heatls, 
and talking from one window to the other. 

They saw the young men emerge from the Café Bombanls 
xrm in arm. The latter turned round, made signs to them 
smiled, and disappeared in that dusty Sunday throng which 
makes a weekly invasion into the Champs-Elysées. 

'' Don't be long ! " cried Fantine. 

'' What are they going to bring us?" said Zéphine. 

'* It will certainly be something pretty," said Dahlia. 

" For my part,*' said Favourite, '' I want it to be of gold." 

Their attention was soon distracted by the movements on the 
shore of the lake, which they could see through the branches of 
the large trees, and which diverted them greatly. 

It was the hour for the departure of the mail-coaches and dili- 
gences. Nearly all the stage-coaches for the south and west 
passed through the Champs-Elysées. The majority followed 
the quay and went through the Passy lîarrier. From moment 
to moment, some huge vehicle, painted yellow and black, heavily 
loaded, noisily harnessed, rendered shapeless by trunks, tar}>au- 
lins, and valises, full of heads which imnie<liately <lisappeared, 
rushed through the crowd with all the sparks of a forge, with 
dust for smoke, and an air of fury, grinding the pavements, 
changing all the paving-stones into steels. This uproar de- 
lighted the young girls. Favourite exclaimed : — 

"What a row! One would say that it was « pile of chains 
flying away." 

It chanced that one of tht?8e vehicles, which they could only 
gee with difficulty through the thick elms, halted for a moment, 
then set out i^ain at a gallop. This surprised Fantine. 

"That's odd!" said she. "I thought the diligence never 

Favourite shrugged her shoulders. 

'^This Fantine is surprising. I am coming to take a look at 
her out of curiosity. She is dazzled by the simplest things. 
Suppose a case : I am a traveller ; I say to the diligence, * I 
will go on in advance ; you shall pick me up on the quay as you 
pass.' The diligence passes, sees me, halts, and takes rae. 
That is done every day. You do not know life, my dear." 

In this manner a certain time elapsed. All at once Favourite 
made a movement, like a person who is just waking up. 


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" Well," said she, " and the surprise?" 

"Yes, by the way," joiued in Dahlia, *' the famous sur- 

''They are a very long time about it ! " said Fantine. 

As Fantine concluded this sigh, the waiter who had served 
them at dinner entered. He held in his hand something which 
resembled a letter. 

" What is that?" demanded Favourite. 

The waiter replied : — 

'' It is a paper that those gentlemen left for these ladies." 

*' Why did you not bring it at once? " 

" Because," said the waiter, *' the gentlemen ordered me not 
to deliver it to the ladies for an hour." 

Favourite snatched the paper from the waiter's hand. It was, 
in fact, a letter. 

'' Stop ! " said she ; '' there is no address ; but this is what is 
written on it : — " 

"This is the Surprise." 

She tore the letter open hastily, opened it, and read [she 
knew how to read] : — 

"OOuR Beloved: — 

"You must know that we have parents. Parents — you do not know 
much about such tilings. They arc called fathers and mothers by the civil 
code, which is puerile and honest. Now, these parents groan, these old 
folks implore us, these good men and these good women call us prodigal 
sons; they desire our return, and offer to kill calves for us. Being virtu- 
ous, we obey them. At the hour when you read this, five fiery horses will 
l)e bearing us to our papas and mammas. We are pulling up our stakes, 
as Bossuet says. We are going ; we are gone. We flee in the arms of 
Lafitte and on the wings of Gaillard. The Toulouse diligence tears us from 
the abyss, and the al)yss is you, O our little beauties! We return to 
society, to duty, to respectability, at full trot, at the rate of three lengnt's 
an hour. It is necessary for the good of the country that we should be. 
'ike all the rest of the world, prefects, fathers of families, rural police and 
.'ouncillors of state. Venerate us. We are sacrificing ourselves. Mourn 
for U8 in haste, and replace us with speed. If this letter lacerates you, do 
the same by it. Adieu. 

" For the space of nearly two years we have made you happy. We bear 
^oa no grudge for that. 

"Signed: Blachevelle. 



Felix TholomtAs. 
"^ PotUcriptum. The dinner is paid for/' 

The four young women looked at each other. 
Favourite was the first to break the silence. 


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"Well!" she exclaimed, "it's a very pretty farce, all the 

" It is very droll," said Zéi)hine. 

" That must have been lilachevelle's idea," resumed Favour* 
ite. "It makes me in love with him. No sooner is he gone 
than he is loved. This is an adventure, indeed." 

" No," said Dalilia ; " it was one of Tholomyès' ideas. That 
ia evident." 

"In that Cîvse," retorted Favourite, "death to Blachevelley 
and long live Tholomyès ! " 

" Long live Tholomyès !" exclaimed Dahlia and Zéphine. 

And tliey burst out laughing. 

Fantine laughed witli the rest. 

An hour later, when she had returned to her room, she wept. 
It was her first love affair, as we have said ; she had given her- 
self to this Tholomyès as to a husband, and the poor girl had 
a child. 


I. — One Mother meets Another Mother. 

There was, at Montfermeil, near Paris, during the fiçst quar- 
ter of this century, a sort of cook-shop which no longer exists, 
This cook-shop was kept by some people named Thenardier, 
husband and wife. It was situated in Boulanger Lane. Over 
the door there was a board nailed flat against the wall. LTpon 
this board was painted something which resembled a man carry- 
ing another man on his back, the latter wearing the big gilt 
epaulettes of a general, with large silver stars ; red spots repre- 
stMited blood ; the rest of the picture consisted of smoke, and 
probably represented a battle. Below ran this inscri[)tion : At 
THE Sign of Sergeant of Waterloo {Ail Sergent de Waterloo), 

Nothing is more common than a cart or a truck at the door of 
a hostelry. Nevertheless, the vehicle, or, to speak more accu- 
rately, the fragment of a vehicle, which encumbered the street 
in front of the cook-shop of the Sergeant of WcUerloo^onQ even- 
ing in the spring of 1818, would certainly have attracted, by its 
Yuass, the attention of any painter who had passed that wa}'. 

It was the fore-carriage of one of those trucks which are usec^ 


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FASTI NE. 189 

^lî wooded tracts of country, and which serve to transport thich 
planks and the trunks of trees. This f ore-carriage was com- 
[)osed of a uiassive iron axle-tree with a ))iv()t, into which was 
tix'^d a heavy shaft, and which was supported by two liuge 
^c^els. The wiiole thing was compact, overwhehning, and 
misshapen. It seemed like the gun-carriage of an enormous 
Mnnon. The ruts of the road had bestowed ou the wheels, the 
ellies, the hub, the axle, and the sluiCt, a layer of mud, a 
hideous yellowish daubing hue, toleraî)ly like that with which 
«.'ople are fond of ornamenting cathedrals. The wood was dis- 
appearing under mud, and the iron beneath rust. Under the 
;xle-tree hung, like drapery, a huge chain, worthy of some (loli- 
ïth of a convict. This chain suggested, not the beams, which 
X was its office to transport, but the mastodons and mammoths 
which it might have served to harness ; it had the air of the 
galleys, but of cyclopean and superhuman galleys, and it seemed 
to have been detached from some monster. Homer would have 
bound Polyphemus with it, and Shakespeare, Caliban. 

Why was that fore-carriage of a truck in that place in the 
street? In the first place, to encumber the street; next, in 
order that it might finish the process of rusting. There is a 
throng of institutions in the ohl social order, which one comes 
across in this fashion as one walks about outdoors, and which 
have no other reasons for existence than the above. 

The centre of the chain swung very near the ground in the 
middle, and in the )oop, as in the rope of a swing, there were 
seated and grouped, on that particular evening, in exquisite in- 
terlacement, two little girls ; one about two years and a half old, 
the other, eighteen months ; the younger in the arms of the other. 
A handkerchief, cleverh' knotted about them, prevented their 
faUing ont. A mother had caught sight of that frightful chain, 
and had said, " Ck)me ! there's a plaything for my children." 

The two children, who were dressed prettily and with some 
elegance, were radiant with pleasure ; one would have said that 
they were two roses amid old iron ; their eyes were a triumph ; 
their fresh cheeks were full of laughter. One had chestnut hair ; 
the other, brown. Their innocent faces were two delighted sur- 
prises ; a blossoming shrub which grew near waftod to the pas- 
sers-by perfumes which seemed to emanate from them ; the child 
of eighteen months displayed her pretty little bare stomach with 
the chaste indecency of cliildhood. Above and around these 
two delicate heads, all made of happiness and steeped in light, 
the gigantic fore-carriage, black with rust, almost terrible, all 
»vtangied in curves and wild an^rles, rose in a vault, like the en* 


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trance of a cavern. A few paces apart, crouching down upon 
the threshold of the hostelry, the mother, not a very pre[H>8ses8' 
ing woman, b}' the way, though touching at that moment, was 
swinging the two children by means of a long cord, watching 
them carefully, for fear of accidents, with that animal and ct»les- 
tial expression which is peculiar to maternity. At every back- 
lYard and forward swing the hideous links emitted a strident 
30und, which resembled a cry of rage ; the little girls were in 
ecstasies ; the setting sun mingled in this joy, and nothing could 
be more charming than this caprice of chance which had made 
of a chain of Titans the swing of cherubim. . 

As she rocked her little ones, the mother hummed in adis^ 
cordant voice a romance then celebrated : — 

" It must be, said a warrior." 

Her song, and the contemplation of her daughters, prevented 
ber hearing and seeing what was going on in the street. 

In the meantime, some one had approached her, as she was 
beginning the first couplet of the romance, and suddenly she 
heard a voice saying very near her ear : — 

'* You have two beautiful children there, Madame." 

** To the fair and tender Imogene — *' 

replied the mother, continuing her romance ; then she turned her 

A woman stood before her, a few paces distant. This woman 
also had a child, which she carried in her arms. 

She was carrying, in addition, a large carpet-bag, whicli 
seemed very heavy. 

This woman's child was one of the most divine creatures that 
it is possible to behold. It was a girl, two or three years of 
age. She could have entered into competition with tlie two 
other little ones, so far as the coquetry of her dress was con- 
cerned ; she wore a cap of fine linen, ribbons on her bodice, ami 
V^alenciennes lace on her cap. The folds of her skirt were raised 
so as to permit a view of her white, firm, and dimpled leg. Slir 
was admirably rosy and healthy. The little beauty inspired a 
desire to take a bite from the apples of her cheeks. Of her eyes 
nothing could be known, except that they must be very large, and 
that tiiey had magnificent lashes. She was asleep. 

She slept with that slumber of absolute confidence peculiar to 
ber age The arms of mothers are made of tenderness ; in them 
children sleep profoundly. 

As for the mother, her appearance was sad and poverty^ 


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stricken. She was dressed like a workiDg-woman who is in 
dined to turn into a peasant again. She was young. Was sho 
handsome ? Perhaps ; but in that attire it was not apparent. 
Her hair, a golden lock of which had escaped, seemed very 
thick, but was severely concealed beneath an ugly, tight, close, 
nun-like cap, tied under the chin. A smile displays beautiful 
teeth when one has them; but she did not smile. Her eyes 
did not seem to have been dry for a very long time. She was 
pale • she had a very weary and rather sickly appearance. She 
gazed upon her daughter asleep in her arms with the air peculiar 
to a mother who has nursed her own child. A large blue hand- 
irerchief, such as the Invalides use, was folded into a fichu, and 
aoncealed her figure clumsily. Her hands were sunburnt and 
«II dotted with freckles,, her forefinger was hardened and lacer- 
ated with the needle ; she wore a cloak of coarse brown woollen 
• tuff, a linen gown, and coarse shoes. It was Fantine. 

It was Fantine, but diflScult to recognize. Nevertheless, on 
icrutinizing her attentively, it was evident that she still retained beauty. A melancholy fold, which resembled the beginning 
<.f irony, wrinkled her right cheek. As for her toilette, that aerial 
tDilette of muslin and nbbons, which seemed made of mirth, of 
folly, and of music, full of bells, and perfumed with lilacs, had 
lanished like that beautiful and dazzling hoar-frost which is 
uistaken for diamonds in the sunlight ; it melts and leaves the 
hranch quite black. 

Ten months had elapsed since the " pretty farce." 

What had taken place during those ten months? It can be 

After abandonment, straightened circumstances. Fantine 
iad immediately lost sight of Favourite, Zéphine, and Dahlia ; 
the bond once broken on the side of the men, it was loosed 
between the women ; they would have been greatly astonished 
had any one told them a fortnight later, that they had been 
friends ; there no longer existed any reason for such a thing. 
Fantine had remained alone. The father of her child gone, — 
ilas ! such ruptures are irrevocable, — she found herself abso- 
lutely isolated, minus the habit of work and plus the taste for 
pleasure. Drawn away by her liaison with Tholomyès to dis- 
dain the petty trade which she knew, she had neglected to keep 
her market open ; it was now closed to her. She had no 
resource. Fantine barely knew how to read, and did not know 
how to write ; in her childhood she had only been taught to sign 
her name ; she had a public letter-writer indite an epistle to 
Tholomyèsi then a second, then a third. Tholomyès reolied to 


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none of them. Fan tine heard the gossips sa}^ as they looked 
at her child: ''Who takes those eliildren seriously! One 
only shrugs one's shoulders over such childreu ! " Then she 
thought of Tholomyès, who had shrugged his shoulders over 
his child, and who did not take that innocent being seriously ; 
and her heart grew gloomy toward that man. But what was she 
to do? She no longer knew to whom to apply. She had com- 
mitted a fault, but the foundation of her nature, as will be 
remembered, was modesty and virtue. She was vaguely con- 
scious that she was ou the verge of falling into distress, and of 
gliding into a worse state. Courage was necessary ; she pos- 
sessed it, and held herself finn. The idea of returning to 
her native town of M. sur M. occurred to her. There, some 
one might possibly know her and give . her work ; yes, but it 
would be necessary to conceal her fault. In a confused way 
she perceived the necessity of a separation which would be 
more painful than the first one. Her heart contracted, but she 
took her resolution. Fan tine, as we shall see, had the fierce 
bravery of life. She had already valiantly renounced finery, 
had dressed herself in linen, and had put all her silks, all her 
ornaments, all her ribbons, and all her laces on her daughter, 
the only vanity which was left to her, and a holy one it was. 
She sold all that she had, which produced for her two hundred 
francs ; her little debts paid, she liad only about eighty francs 
left. At the age of twenty-two, on a beautiful spring morning, 
she quitted Paris, bearing her child on her back. Any one who 
had seen these two pass would have had pity on them. This 
woman had, in all the world, nothing but her child, and the 
child had, in all the world, no one but this woman. Fantine 
had nursed her child, and this had tired her chest, and she 
coughed a little. 

We shall have no further occasion to speak of M. Félix 
Tholomyès. Let us confine ourselves to saying, that, twenty 
years later, under King Louis Philippe, he was a great provin- 
cial lawyer, wealthy and influential, a wise elector, and a very 
severe juryman ; he was still a man of pleasure. 

Towards the middle of the day, after having, from time to 
time, for the sake of resting herself, travelled, for three or four 
sous a league, in what was then known as the Petites Voitures 
des Environs de PariSy the " little suburban coach serA'ice," 
Fantine found herself at Montfermeil, in the alley Boulanger. 

As she passed the Th^nardier hostelry, the two little girls, 
blissful in the monster swing, had dazzled her in a manner, and 
ebe had halted in front of that vision of joy. 


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Charms exist. These two little girls were a charm to this 

She gazed at them in much emotion. The presence of angels 
is an announcement of Paradise. She thought that, above this 
inn, she beheld the mysterious UKKE of Providence. These two 
little creatures were evidently happy. Slie gazed at them, she 
admired them, in such emotion that at the moment when their 
mother was recovering her breath between two couplets of her 
song, she could not refrain from addressing to her the remark 
which we have just read : — 

" You have two pretty children, Madame." 

The most ferocious creatures are disarmed by caresses be- 
stowed on their young. 

The mother raised her head and thanked her, and bade the 
wayfarer sit down on the bench at the door, she herself being 
seated on the threshold. The two women began to chat. 

'* My name is Madame Thénardier," said the mother of the 
two little girls. ''We keep this inn." 

Then, her mind still running on her romance, she resumed, 
humming between her teeth : — 

" It must be 80 ; I am a knight. 
And I am off to Palestine." 

This Madame Thénardier was a sandy-complexioned woman, 
thin and angular — the type of the soldier's wife in all its unpleas- 
antness ; and what was odd, with a languishing air, which 
she owed to her perusal of romances. She was a simpering, 
but masculine creature. Old romances produce that effect when 
rubbed against the imagination of cook-shop woman. She was 
still young ; she was barely thirty. If this crouching woman 
had stood upright, her lofty stature and her frame of - ^.eram- 
bulatiug colossus suitable for fairs, might have frightened the 
traveller at the outset, troubled her confidence, and disturbed 
what caused what we have to relate to vanish. A person who is 
seated instead of standing erect — destinies hang upon such a 
thing as that. 

The traveller told her story, with slight modifications. 

That she was a working-woman ; that her husband was dead ; 
that her work in Paris had failed her, and that she was on her 
way to seek it elsewhere, in her own native parts ; that she had 
left Paris that morning, on foot ; that, as she was carrying her 
child, and felt fatigued, she had got into the Villemorable coach 
when she met it ; that from Villemomble she had come to Mont- 
fermeil on foot ; that the little one had walked a little, but not 


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144 i^isiS MISKHAISLtsSi. 

much, because she was so young, and that she bad been obliged 
»o take her up, and the jewel had fallen asleep. 

At this word she bestowed on her daughter a passionate 
kiss, which woke her. The child opened lier eyes, great blue 
eyes like her mother's, and looked at — what? Nothing; with 
that serious and sometimes severe air of little children, which is 
a mystery of tlieir luminous innocence in the presence of our 
twilight of virtue. One would say that they feel themselves to 
be angels, and that they know us to be men. Then the child 
began to laugh ; and although the mother held fast to her, she 
slipped to the ground with the unconquerable energy of a little 
being which wished to run. All at once she caught sight of 
the two others in the swing, stopped short, and put out her 
tongue, in sign of admiration. 

Mother Thénardier released her daughters^ made them desoentl 
from the swing, and said : — 

'* Now amuse yourselves, all three of you.'* 

Children become acquainted quickly at that age, and at the 
expiration of a minute the little Thénardiers were playing with 
the new-comer at making holes in the ground, which was an 
immense pleasure. 

The new-comer was very gay ; the goodness of the mother is 
written in the gayety of the child ; she had seized a scrap of 
wood which served her for a shovel, and energetically dug a 
cavity big enough for a fly. The grave-digger's business be • 
comes a subject for laughter when performed by a child. 

The two women pursued their chat. 

*' What is vour little one's name?" 


For Cosette, read Euphrasie. The child's name was Enphra 
sie. But out of Euphrasie the mother had made Cosette by that 
sweet and graceful instinct of mothers and of the po[)ulace 
which changes Josepha into Pépita, and Françoise into Sillette. 
It is a sort of derivative which disarranges and disconcerts the 
whole sjience of the etymologists. We have known a grand 
mother who succeeded in turning Theodore into Gnon. 

*'H()W old is she?'* 

*' She is going on three.** 

*' That is the age of my eldest." 

In the meantime, the three little girls were grouped in an al^ 
lîtude of profound anxiety and blis? fulness ; an event had hap- 
pened ; a big worm had emerged from the ground, and they 
were afraid ; and they were in ecstasies over it. 

Their radiant brows touched each other ; one would have satif 
«hat there were three heads iu oue aureole. 


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**How easily children get acquainted at once!'* exclaimed 
tlother Thénardier; "one would swear that they were three 
«isters ! " 

This remark was probably the spark which the other mother 
had been waiting for. She seized the Thénardier's hand, looked 
at her fixedly, and said : — 

" Will you keep my child for me ? " 

Tlie Thénardier made one of those movements of surprise 
which signify neither assent nor refusal. 

Cosette's mother continued : — 

"You see, I cannot take my daughter to the country. My 
ffork will not permit it. With a child one can find no situation* 
People are ridiculous in the country. It was the good God who 
i;aQscd me to pass your inn. When I caught sight of your little 
ones, so pretty, so clean, and so happy, it overwhelmed me. I 
liaid : * Here is a good mother. That is just the thing ; that 
will make three sisters.' And then, it will not be long before I 
i-etum. Will you keep my child for me ? " 

"I must see about it," replied the Thénardier, 

"I will give you six francs a month." 

Here a man's voice called from the depths of the cook- 
fthop : — 

^'Not for less than seven francs. And six months paid in 

"Six times seven makes forty-two," said the Thénardier. 

"I will give it," said the mother. 

"And fifteen francs in addition for preliminary expenses," 
added the man's voice." 

"Total, fifty-seven francs," said Madame Thénardier. And 
she hummed vaguely, with these Ggures :-» 

"It must be, said a warrior." 

*'I will pay it," said the mother. "I have eighty francs. 1 
Jiall have enough left to reach the country, by travelling on 
{oot. I shall earn money there, and as soon as I have a little. 
[ ivill return for my darling." 

The man's voice resumed : — 

"The little one has an outfit?" 

"That is my husband," said the Thénardier. 

"Of course she has an outfit, the poor treasure. — I undei^ 
btood perfectly that it was your husband. — And a beautiful out- 
fit, too! a senseless outfit, everything by the dozen, and silk 
gowns like a lady. It is here, in my carpet-bag." 

'^ YoQ must hand it over," struck in the man's voice again. 


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'*0f coui-se I shall give it to you,'* said tlie iiiotlier. *'R 
would be very queer if I were to leave mv daughter quite 
naked ! " 

The master's face appeared. 

'' That's good," said he. 

The bargain was concluded. The mother passed the night 
at the inn, gave up her money and left hor cliild, fastened lu r 
carpet-bag once more, now reduced in volume by the reniov:i' 
of the outfit, and light henceforth, and set out on the foUowint» 
morning, intending to return soon. People arrange such de- 
partures tranquilly ; but they are despairs ! 

A neighbor of the Thénardiers met this mother as she was 
setting out, and came back with the remark : — 

'• I have just seen a woman crying in the street so that it was 
enough to rend your heart." 

When Cosette's mother had taken her dei)arture, the man 
said to the woman : — 

"That will serve to pay my note for one hundred and ten 
francs which falls due to-morrow ; I lacked fifty francs. Do 3 uu 
know that 1 should have had a bailiff and a protest after me? 
You played the mouse-trap nicely with your young ones." 

'* Without suspecting it," said the woman. 

II. — First Sketch op two Unpkkpossessing Figures. 

The mouse which had been caught was a pitiful specimen ; 
but the cat rejoices even over a lean mouse. 

Who were these Thénardiers ? 

Let us say a word or two of them now. We will complete 
the sketch later on. 

Those beings belonged to that bastard class composed of 
coarse people who have been successful, and of intelligent 
people who have descended in the scale, which is between tin 
class called '* middle" and the class denominated as ** inferior,' 
and which combines some of the defects of the second with 
nearly all the vices of the first, without possessing the gener- 
ous impulse of the workingman nor the honest order of the 

They were of those dwarfed natures which, if a dull (Ire 
chances to warm them up, easily become monstrous. There 
was in the woman a substratum of the brute, and in the man 
the material for a blackguard. lioth w<'re susceptible, in llu» 
highest degree, of the sort of hideous progress which is acconi- 


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plished in the direction of evil. There exist crab-like souls 
which are continually retreating towards the darkness, retro- 
grading in life rather than advancing, employing experience 
U) augment their deformity, growing incessantly worse, and 
becoming more and more impregnated with an ever-augment- 
ing blackness. This man and woman i)ossessed such souls. 

Thénardier, in particular, was troublesome for a physiogno- 
mist. One can only look at some men to distrust them ; foi 
one feels that they are dark in both directions. They are 
aneasy in the rear and threatening in front. There is some- 
thing of the unknown about them. One can no more answer 
for what they have done than for what they will do. The 
shadow which they bear in their glance denounces them. 
From merely hearing them utter a word or seeing them make a 
gesture, one obtains a glimpse of sombre secrets in their past 
aod of sombre mysteries in their future. 

This Thénardier, if he himself was to be believed, had been 
a soldier — a sergeant, he said. He had probably been through 
the campaign of 1815, and had even conducted himself with 
tolerable valor, it would seem. We shall see later on how much 
truth there was in this. The sign of his hostelry was in allu- 
sion to one of his feats of arms. He had painted it himself ; 
for he knew how to do a little of everything, and badly. 

It was at the epoch when the ancient classical romance 
which, after having been Clélie^ was no longer anything but 
LodfAska^ still noble, but ever more and more vulgar, having 
fallen from Mademoiselle de Scudéri to Madame Bournon- 
Malarme^ and from Madame de Lafayette to Madame Barthél- 
einy-Hadot, was setting the loving hearts of the portresses of 
Paris aflame, and even ravaging the suburbs to some extent. 
Madame Thénardier was just intelligent enough to read this 
sort of books. She lived on them. In them she drowned what 
brains she possessed. This had given her, when very young, 
iml even a little later, a sort of pensive attitude towards her 
husband, a scamp of a ceilain depth, a ruffian lettered to the 
extent of the grammar, coarse and fine at one and the same 
time, but, so far as sentimentalism was concerned, given to 
the perusal of Pigault- Lebrun, and '*in what concerns the 
sex," as he said in his jargon — a downright, unmitigated 
but. His wife was twelve or fifteen years younger than he 
was. Later on, when her hair, arranged in a romantically 
jlrooping fashion, began to grow gray, wlien tlie Magjera began 
to be developed from the Pamela, the female Thénardier was 
nothing but a coarse, vicious woman, who had dabbled in 


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Btupid romances. Now, one cannot read nonsense with in- 
|)unitv. The result was that her eldest daughter was namei 
Éponine ; as for the youuger, the poor little thing came near 
being called Guluare ; I know not to what divei*siou, effectei 
by a romance of Ducray-Dumenil, she owed the fact tliat she 
merely bore the name of Azelma. 

However, we will remark by the way, everything was not 
ridiculous and superficial in that curious epoch to which we are 
alluding, and which may be designated as the anarchy of bap- 
tismal names. By the side of this romantic element which we 
have just indicated there is the social symptom. It is not rare 
for the neatherd's boy nowadays to bear the name of Artliui, 
Alfred, or Alphonse, and for the vicomte — if there are still 
any vicomtes — to be called Thomas, Pierre, or Jacques. This 
displacement, which places the '' elegant" name on the plebeian 
and the rustic name on the aristocrat, is nothing else than an 
eddy of equality. The irresistible penetration of the new in^ 
spiration is there as everywhere else. Beneath this apparent 
discord there is a great and a profound thing, — the French 

nL — The Lark. 

It is not all in all sufficient to be wicked in order to prosper 
The cook-shop was in a bad way. 

Thanks to the traveller's fifty -seven francs, Thénardier haxi 
been able to avoid a protest and to honor his signature. On 
the following month they were again in need of money. The 
woman took Cosette's outfit, to Paris, and pawned it at the 
pawnbroker's for sixty francs. As soon as that sum was spent^ 
the Thénardiers grew accustomed to look on the little girl 
merely as a child whom they were caring for out of charity ; 
and they treated her accordingly. As she had no longer any 
clothes, they dressed her in the cast-off petticoats and chemises 
of the Thénardier brats ; that is to say, in rags. They fed lioi 
on what all the rest had left — a little better than the dog, s 
Httle worse than the cat. Moreover, the cat and the dog wei-s 
her habitual' table-companions ; Cosette ate with them uiuley 
the table, from a wooden bowl similar to theirs. 

The mother, who had established herself, as we shall see 
later on, at M. sur M., wrote, or, more correctly, caused to hn 
written, a letter every month, that she might have news of her 
child. The Thénardiers reolied invariably, "Cosette is doin$; 
wonderfully' well. 


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At the expiration of the first six moaths the mother sent 
aeven francs for the seventh montlj, and continued lier remiU 
tances with tolerable regularity from month to month. The 
year was not completed when Thénardier said : " A fine favor 
she is doing us, in sooth ! What does she expect us to do with 
her seven francs?" and he wrote to demand twelve francs. 
The mother, whom they had persuaded into the belief that her 
child was happy, '^and was coming on well," submitted, and 
forwarded the twelve francs. 

Certain natures cannot love on the one hand without hating 
on the other. Mother Théuardier loved her two daughters pas- 
sionately, which caused her to hate the stranger. 

It is sad to think that the love of a mother can possess vil- 
lanons aspects. Little as was the space occupied by Cosette, 
it seemed to her as though it were taken from her own, anci 
ihat that little child diminished the air which her daughters 
breathed. This woman, like many women of her sort, had a 
load of caresses and a burden of blows and injuries to dispense 
each day. If she had not had Cosette, it is certain that her 
daughters, idolized as they were, would have received the 
whole of it; but the stranger did them the service to divert 
the blows to herself. Her daughters received nothing but ca- 
resses. Cosette could not make a motion which did not draw 
down upon her head a heavy shower of violent blows and ud- 
merited chastisement. The sweet, feeble being, who should 
not have understood anything of this world or of God, inces- 
santly punished, scolded, ill-used, beaten, and seeing beside 
her two little creatures like herself, who lived in a ray of dawn ! 

Madame Thénardier was vicious with Cosette. Éponine and 
^elina were vicious. Children at that age are only copies of 
their mother. The size is smaller ; that is all. 

A year passed ; then another. 

People in the village said : — 

'* Those Thénardiers are good people. They are not rich, and 
yet they are bringing up a poor child who was abandoned on 
their hands ! " 

They thought that Cosette's mother had forgotton her. 

In the meanwhile, Thénardier, having learned, it is impossible 
to say by what obscure means, that the child was probably a 
bastard, and that the mother could not acknowledge it, exacted 
fifteen francs a month, saying that " the creature" was growing 
and '* eating," and threatening to send her away. " Let her 
not botber me/' be exclaimed, ^^or I'll fire her brat right into 


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Che middle of her secrets. I must have an increase." The 
mother paid the fifteen francs. 

From year to year the child grew, and so did her wretche<i' 

As long as Cosctte was little, she was the scape-goat of tlie 
two other children ; as soon as she began to develop a little, 
that is to say, before she was even five years old, she became 
ihe servant of the household. 

Five years old ! the reader will say ; that is not probable. 
Alas I it is true. Social suffering begins at all ages. Have we 
not recently seen the trial of a man named Dumollard, an 
orphan turned bandit, who, from the age of five, as the official 
documents state, being alone in the world, " worked for his liv- 
ing and stole " ? 

Cosette was made to run on errands, to sweep the rooms, the 
courtyard, the street, to wash the dishes, to even carry bur- 
dens. The Thénardiers considered themselves all the more au- 
thorized to behave in this manner, since the mother, who was 
still at M. sur M. had become irregular in her payments. Some 
months she was in arrears. 

If this mother had returned to M ontfermeil at the end of these 
three years, she would not have recognized her child. Cosette, 
so pretty and rosy on her arrival in that house, was now thin 
and pale. She had an indescribably uneasy look. "The sly 
creature," said the Thénardiers. 

Injustice had made her peevish, and misery had made her 
ugly. Nothing remained to her except her beautiful eyes, 
which inspired pain, because, large as they were, it seemed as 
though one beheld in them a still larger amount of sadness. 

It was a heart-breaking tiling to see this poor child, not yet 
six years old, shivering in the winter in her old rags of linen, 
full of holes, sweeping tlie street before daylight, with an enor- 
mous broom in her tiny red hands, and a tear in her great eyes. 

She was called the Lark in the neighborhood. The populace, 
who are fond of those figures of speech, had taken a fancy to 
bestow this name on this trembling, frightened, and shivering 
little creature, no bigger tlian a l)ird, who was awake every 
morning before any one else in the house or the village, and 
was always in the street or the fields before daybreak. 

Only the little lark never sang. 


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L-— The History of a Progress in Black Glass TKutKETti 

And in the meantime, what had become of that mother who, 
according to the people at Montfermeil, seemed to have aban- 
doned her child ? Where was she ? What was she doing ? 

After leaving her little Cosette with the Tliénardiers, she 
had continued her joume^', and had reached M. sur M. 

This, it will be remembered, was in 1818. 

Fantine had quitted her province ten years before. M. sur M. 
had changed its aspect. While Fantine had been slowly de- 
sceoding from wretchedness to wretchedness, her native town had 

About two years previously one of those industrial facta 
which are the grand events of small districts had taken place. 

This detail is imi)ortant, and we regard it as useful to develop 
it at length ; we should almost say, to underline it. 

From time immemorial, M. sur M. had had for its special indus- 
try the imitation of English jet and the black glass trinkets of 
Germany. This industry had always vegetated, on account of 
the high price of the raw material, which reacted on the manu- 
facture. At the moment when Fantine returned to M. sur 
M., an unheard-of transformation had taken place in the pro- 
duction of "black goods." Towards the close of 1815 a man, 
a stranger, had established himself in the town, and had 
been inspired with the idea of substituting, in this manufacture, 
gum-lac for resin, and, for bracelets in particular, slides of 
sheet-iron simply- laid together, for slides of soldered sheet-iron. 

This very small change had effected a revolution. 

This ver}' small change had, in fact, prodigiously reduced the 
cost of the raw material, which had rendered it possible in the 
first place, to raise the price of manufacture, a benefit to the 
ooontn* ; in the second place, to improve the workmanship, an 
advantage to the consumer; in the third place, to sell at a lowel 
price, while trebling the profit, which was a benefit to the manu* 

Thus three results ensued from one idea. 


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lu less than three years the inventor of this process had be- 
come rich, which is good, and had made Qv^ry one about him 
rich, which is better. He was a stranger in the Department. 
Of his origin, nothing was known ; of the bogining of his career, 
very little. It was rumored that he had come to town with very 
little money, a few hundred francs at the most. 

It was from this slender capital, enlisted in the service of an 
ingenious idea, developed by method and thought, that he had 
drawn his own fortune, and the fortune of the whole country* 

On his arrival at M. sur M. he had onl}* the garments, the 
appearance, and the language of a workingman. 

It appears that on the very day when he made his obscure 
entry into the little town of M. sur M., just at nightfalK 
on a December evening, knapsack on back and thorn club in 
hand, a large fire had broken out in the town-hall. This man 
had rushed into the flames and had saved, at the risk of his own 
life, two children who belonged to the capUiin of the gendar- 
merie ; this is why they had forgotten to ask him for his pass- 
port. Afterwards they had learned his name. He was called 
Father Madeleine. 

II. — Madeleine. 

He was a man about fifty years of age, who had a preoccu- 
pied air, and who was good. That was all that could be said 
about him. 

Thanks to the rapid progress of the industry which he had so 
admirably re-constructed, M. sur M. had become a rather impor- 
tant centre of trade. Spain, which consumes a good deal of 
black jet, made enormous purchases there each 3'ear. M. sur 
M. almost rivalled London and Berlin in this branch of 
commerce. Father Madeleine's profits were such, that at the 
end of the second year he was able to erect a large factory, in 
which there were two vast workrooms, one for the men, and 
the other for women. Any one who was hungry could present 
himself there, and was sure of finding employment and bread. 
Father Madeleine required of tiie men good will, of the women 
pure morals, and of all, probity. lie had separated the work- 
rooms in order to separate the sexes, and so that the women 
and girls might remain discreet. On this point he was inflex- 
ible. It was the only tiling in which he was in a manner 
intolerant, lie was all the more firmly set on this severity, 
fincc M. sur M., being a garrison town, opportunities for 

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oorraption abouDded. However, his coming had been a 
boon, and his presence was a godsend. Before Father Mad- 
eleine's arrival, everything had languislied in the country ; 
now everything lived with a healthy life of toil. A strong 
circnlation warmed everything and penetrated everywhere 
Slack seasons and wretchedness were unknown. There was 
no pocket so obscure that it had not a little money in it; 
no dwelling so lowly that there was not some little joy within 

Father Madeleine gave employment to every one. He 
exacted but one thing: Be an honest man. Be an honest 

As we have said, in the midst of this activity of which he was 
the cause and the pivot, Father Madeleine made his fortune ; 
hut a singular thing in a simple man of business, it did not 
seem as though that were his chief care. He appeared to be 
thinking much of others, and little of himself. In 1820 he was 
known to have a sum of six hundred and thirty thousand francs 
lodged in his name with Laffîtte ; but before reserving these six 
hundred and thirty thousand francs, he had spent more than a 
million for the town and its poor. 

The hospital was badly endowed ; he founded six beds there. 
M. sur M. is divided into the upper and the lower town. 
The lower town, in which he lived, had but one school, 
a miserable hovel, which was falling to ruin : he constructed 
two, one for gii'ls, the other for boys. He allotted a salary 
from his own funds to the two instructors, a salary twice as 
large as their meagre official salary, and one day he said to 
some one who expressed surprise, "The two prime function- 
aries of the state are the nurse and the schoolmaster." He 
created at his own expense an infant school, a thing then 
almost unknown in France, and a fund for aiding old and in- 
firm workmen. As his factory was a centre, a new quarter, in 
which there were a good many indigent families, rose rapidly 
around him ; he established there a free dispcnsar}'. 

At first, when they watched his beginnings, the good soula 
said, "He's a jolly fellow who means to get rich." When 
they saw him enriching the country before he enriched himself, 
the good souls said, " He is an ambitious man." This seemed 
all the more probable since the man was religious, and even 
practised his religion to a certain degree, a thing which was 
very favorably viewed at that epoch. He went regularly to low 
mass every Sunday. The local deputy, who nosed out all rivalry 
everywhere, soon began to grow uneasy ovei this religioa 


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This deputy' had been a member of the legislative body of the 
Empire, aud shared the religious ideas of a father of the Ora- 
toire, known under the name of Fouché, Duc d*Otrante, whose 
creature and friend he had been. He indulged in gentle rail- 
lery at God with closed doors. But when he beheld the wealth} 
manufacturer Madeleine going to low mass at seven o'clock, he 
perceived in him a possible candidate, and resolved to outdo 
him ; he took a Jesuit confessor, and went to high mass and to 
vespers. Ambition was at that time, in the direct acccptatioD 
of the word, a race to tlie steeple. The poor profited by thie 
terror as well as the good God, for the honorable deputy also 
founded two beds in the hospitol, which made twelve. 

Nevertheless, in 1819 a rumor one morning circulated tln*ough 
the town to the effect that, on tlie representations of the pre- 
fect and in consideration of the services rendered by him to the 
country. Father Madeleine was to be appointed by the King, 
mayor of M. sur M. Tliose wlio had pronounced this 
new-comer to be *' an ambitious fellow," seized with delight on 
this opportunity which all men desire, to exclaim, '* There ! 
what did we say ! " All M. sur M. was in an upix)ar. The 
rumor was well founded. Several days later Uie appoint- 
ment appeared in tlie Moniteur . On the following day Father 
Madeleine refused. 

In tliis same year of 1819 tlie products of the new process 
invented by Madeleine figured in the industrial exhibition ; when 
the jury made their report, the King appointed the inventor s 
chevalier of the Legion of Honor. A fresh excitement in the 
little town. Well, so it was the cross that he wanted ! Father 
Madeleine refused the cross. 

Decidedly, this man was an enigma. The good souls got 
out of their predicament by saying, *' After all, he is some sort 
of an adventurer." 

We have seen that the country owed much to him ; the poor 
owed him everything ; he was so useful and he was so gentle 
that people had been obliged to honor and respect him. His 
workmen, in particular, adored him, and he endured this adora- 
tion with a sort of melancholy gravity. When he was known 
to be rich, "people in society" bowed to him, and he receiA-e<î 
invitations in the town ; he was called, in town. Monsieur Mad- 
eleine ; his workmen and the children continued to call hini 
Father Madeleine, and that was what was most adapted to make 
him smile. In proportion as he mounted, throve, invitations 
rained down upon him. "Society" claimed him for its own 
The prim little drawing-rooms on M. sur M., which, of 


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coarse, had at first been closed to the artisan, opened both leavei 
of their folding-doors to the millionnaire. They made a thousand 
advances to him. He refused. 

This time the good gossips had no trouble. ^^ He is an igno- 
rant man, of no education. No one knows where he came from. 
He would not know how to behave in society. It has not been 
absolutely proved that he knows how to read." 

When they saw him making money, they said, ^^ He is a man 
of basioess." When they saw him scattering his mcmey about* 
they said, "He is an ambitious man." When he was seen to 
decline honors, they said, " He is an adventurer." When they 
flaw him repulse society, they said, " He is a brate." 

In 1820, five years after his arrival in M. sur M., the 
services which he had rendered to the district were so dazzling, 
the opinion of the whole country round about was so unanimous, 
that the King again appointed him mayor of the town. He again 
declined ; but the prefect resisted his refusal, all the notabilities 
of the place came to implore him, the people in the street be- 
soaght him; the urging was so vigorous that he ended bj 
accepting. It was noticed that the thing which seemed chiefly 
to bring him to a decision was the almost irritated apostrophe 
addressed to him by an old woman of the people, who called to 
him from her threshold, in an angrj- way : " ^ good mayor is q 
^d thing. Is he drawing hack before the good which lie ca% 

This was the third phase of his ascent. Father Madeleine- 
had become Monsieur Madeleine. Monsieur Madeleine became 
Honsienr le Maire. 

m. — Sums deposited with Laffittb. 

On the other hand, he remained as simple as on the first day. 
He had gray hair, a serious eye, the sunburned complexion uf 
a lal)orer, the thoughtful visage of a philosopher. He habitually 
wore a hat with a wide brim, and a long coat of coarse cloth, 
buttoned to the chin. He fulfilled his duties as mayor; but, 
with that exception, he lived in solitude. He spoke to but few 
people. He avoided polite attentions ; he escaped quickly ; he 
smiled to relieve himself of the necessity of talking ; he gave, m 
order to get rid of the necessity for smiling. Tlie women said 
of him, '^ What a good-natured bear ! " His pleasure consisted 
in strolling in the fields. 

He always took his meals alone, with an open book before 


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him, which he read. He had a well-selected little libracy. He 
loved books ; books are cold but safe friends. In proportion 
as leisure came to him with fortune, he seemed to take advaa 
tage of it to cultivate his mind. It had been observed that, 
ever since his arrival at M. sur M., his language had grown 
more polished, more choice, and more gentle with ever^ passing 
year. He liked to carry a gun with him on his strolls, but he 
rarely made use of it. When he did happen to do so, his shoot- 
ing was something so infallible as to inspire terror. He never 
killed an inoffensive animal. He never shot at a little bird. 

A^lthcugh he was no longer young, it was thought that he was 
still prodigiously' strong. He offered his assistance to any one 
who was in need of it, lifted a horee, released a wheel clogged 
in the mud, or stopped a runaway bull by the horns. He al- 
ways had his pockets full of money when he went out ; but they 
were empty on his return. When he passed through a village, 
the ragged brats ran. joyously after him, and surrounded him 
like a swarm of gnats. 

It was thought that he must, in the past, have lived a country 
life, since he knew all sorts of useful secrets, which he taught 
to the peasants. He taught them how to destroy scurf on 
wheat, by sprinkling it and the granary and inundating the 
cracks in the floor with a solution of common salt; and how to 
chase away weevils by hanging up orviot in bloom everywhere, 
on the walls and the ceilings, among the grass and in the houses- 
He had " recipes " for exterminating from a field, blight, 
tares, toxtail, and all parasitic growths which destroy the wheat. 
He defended a rabbit warren against rats, simply by the odor 
of a guinea-pig which he placed in it. 

One day he saw some country people busily engaged in pull« 
ing up nettles ; he examined the plants, which were uprooted 
and already dried, and said: "They are dead. Nevertheless, 
it would be a good thing to know how to make use of them. 
When the nettle is young, the leaf makes an excellent vegetable ; 
when it is older, it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax. 
Nettle cloth is as good as linen cloth. Chopped up, nettles are 
good for poultry ; pounded, they are good for horned cattle. The 
<3eed of the nettle, mixed with fodder, gives gloss to the hair of 
animals; the root, mixed with salt, produces a beautiful yellow 
ooloring-raatter. Moreover, it is an excellent hay, which can 
be cut twice. And what is required for the nettle? A little 
soil, no care, no culture. Only the seed falls as it is ripe, and 
it is difficult to collect it. That is all. With the exercise of a 
tittle care« the nettle could be made useful ; it is neglected and 


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H beoomes hnrtful. It is exterminated. How many men re- 
semble the nettle!" He added, after a pause: ^^ Remember 
ibis, my friends : there are no such things as bad plants or bad 
men. There are onl}- bad cultivators." 

The children loved him because he knew how to make charm- 
ing little trifles of straw and cocoanuts. 

When he saw the door of a church hung in black, he entered : 
he sought out funerals as other men seek christenings. Widow- 
hood and the grief of others attracted him, because of his great 
gentleness ; he mingled with the friends clad in mourning, with 
families dressed in black, with the priests groaning around a 
coffin. He seemed to like to give to bis thoughts for text these 
funereal psalmodies filled with the vision of the other world. 
With his eyes fixed on heaven, he listened with a sort of aspira- 
tion towards all the mysteries of the infinite, those sad voices 
which sing on the verge of the obscure abyss of death. 

He performed a multitude of good actions, concealing his 
agency in them as a man conceals himself because of evil ac- 
tions. He penetrated houses privately, at night; he ascended 
staircases furtively. A poor wretch on returning to his attic 
would find that his door had been opened, sometimes even 
forced, during his absence. The poor man made a clamor over 
it: some malefactor had been there ! He entered, and the first 
thing he beheld was a piece of gold lying forgotten on some 
piece of furniture. The '^ malefactor" who had been there was 
Father Madeleine. 

He was affable and sad. The people said : ^' There is a rich 
man who has not a haughty air. There is a happy man who 
has not a contented air." 

Some people maintained that he was a mysterious person, 
and that no one ever entered his cliamber, which was a regular 
anchorite's cell, furnished with winged hour-glasses and en- 
livened by cross-bones and skulls of dead men ! This was nmcb 
talked of, so that one of the elegant and malicious young 
women of M. sur M. came to him one day, and asked : ^^ Mon- 
sieur le Maire, pray show us your chamber. It is said to be a 
grotto." He smiled, and introduced them instintly into this 
'* grotto," Tliey were well punished for their curiosity. Tlie 
room was very simply furnished in mahogany, which was rather 
ugly, like all furniture of that sort, and hung with paper worth 
twelve sous. They could see nothing remarkable about it, ex- 
cept two candlesticks of antique pattern which stood on the 
chimney-piece and appeared to be silver, " for they were hall- 
marked,'* an observation full of the type of wit of petty towns. 


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Nevertheless, people continued to say that no one ever j^ot 
fnto the room, and that it was a hermit's cave, a mysterioas re- 
treat, a hole, a tomb. 

It was also whispered about that he had '* immense" sums 
deposited with Laffitte, with this peculiar feature, that they were 
always at his immediate disposal, so that, it was added, M. 
Madeleine could make liis appearance at La(litto*s any mornin^v 
sign a receipt, and can*y off his two or three millions in ten 
minutes. In reality, *' these two or three millions" were redu- 
cible, as we have said, to six hundred and thirty or forty thou 
sand francs. 

IV. — M. Madeleine ik Mourning. 

At the beginning of 1820 the newspapers announced the death 
of M. Myriel, Bishop of D., surnamed *' Monseigneur Bienvenu," 
who had died in the odor of sanctity at tiie age of eighty-two. 

The Bishop of D. — to supply here a detail which the papers 
omitted — had been blind for many years before his death, and 
content to be blind, as his sister was beside him. 

Let us remark b}* the way, that to be blind and to be loved^ 
is, in fact, one of the most strangely exquisite forms of happi- 
ness upon this earth, where nothing is complete. To have con- 
tinually at one's side a woman, a daughter, a sister, a charming 
being, who is there because you need her and because she can- 
not do without you ; to know that we are indispensable to a 
person who is necessary to us ; to be able to incessantly measure 
one's affection by the amount of her presence which she bestows 
on us, and to say to ourselves, '* Since she consecrates the 
whole of her time to me, it is because I possess the whole of 
lier heart " ; to behold her thought in lieu of her face ; to be able 
to verify the fidelity of one being amid the eclipse of the world ; 
to regard the rustle of a gown as the sound of wings ; to hear her 
come and go, retire, speak, return, sing, and to think that one is 
the centre of these steps, of this speech ; to manifest at each in- 
staut one's personal attraction ; to feel one's self all the more 
powerful because of one's infirmity ; to become in one's obscu- 
rity, and through one's obscurity, the star around which this angel 
gravitates, — few felicities equal this. The supreme happiness of 
life consists in the conviction that one is loved ; loved for one's 
own sîike — let us say rather, loved in spite of one's self ; this con- 
viction the blind man possesses. To be served in this distress 
is to be caressed. Does he lack anything? No. One does not 
lose the light when one has love. And what love ! A love 


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«vholly constituted of virtue ! There is no blindness where there 
is certainty. Soul seeks soul, gropingly, and finds it. And 
this soul, found and tested, is a woman. A hand sustains you . 
it is tiers : a mouth lightly touches your brow ; it is her mouth • 
you hear a breath ver}* near you ; it is hers. To have every- 
thing of her, from her worship to her pity, never to be left, to 
have that sweet weakness aiding you, to lean upon that immov- 
able reed, to touch Providence with one's hands, and to be able . 
to take it in one's arms, — God made tangible, — what bliss ! The 
heart, that obscure, celestial flower, undergoes a mysterious blos- 
soming. One would not exchange that shadow for all bright- 
ness ! The angel soul is there, uninterruptedly there ; if she 
departs, it is but to return again ; she vanishes like a dream, and 
reappears like realit}'. One feels warratli approaching, and be- 
hold ! she is there. One overflows with serenity, with gayety, 
with ecstasy ; one is a radiance amid the night. And there are 
a thousand little cares. Nothings, whicii are enormous in that 
void. The most ineffable accents of the feminine voice em- 
ployed to lull you, and supplying the vanished universe to you. 
()ne is caressed with the soul. One sees nothing, but one feels 
that one is adored. It is a paradise of shadows. , 

It was from this paradise that Monseigneur Welcome had 
passed to the other. 

The announcement of his death was reprinted by the loca* 
journal of M. sur M. On the following day, M. Madeleine 
appeared clad wholly in black, and with crape on his hat. 

This mourning was noticed in the town, and commented on 
It seemed to throw a light on M. Madeleine's origin. It wa^ 
concluded that some relationship existed between him and the 
venerable Bishop. " He lias gone into mourning for the Bishop 
of D." said the drawing-rooms; this raised M. Madeleine's 
credit greatly, and procured for him, instantly and at one 
blow, a certain consideration in the noble world of M. sur M. 
The microscopic Faubourg Saint-Germain of the place medi- 
tated raising the quarantine against M. Madeleine, the probable 
relative of a bishop. M. Madeleine perceived the advancement 
which he had obtained, by the more numerous curtesies of the 
old women and the more plentiful smiles of the young ones. 
One evening, a ruler in that petty great world, who was curious 
hy right of seniority, ventured to ask him, ''M. le Maire is 
doubtless a cousin of the late Bishop of D.?" 

He said, *' No, Madame." 

^^ But/' resumed the dowager, '^you are wearing mourning 
for him.** 


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He replied, ** It is because I was a servant in his family in 

aay youth." 

Another thing which was renuirked, was, that every time thai 
he encountered in the town a >'oung Savoyard who was roaming 
about the country and seeking chimneys to sweep, the mayor hat! 
him summoned, inquired his name, and gave him money. Tlie 
little Savoyards told each other about it : a great many of them 
passed that way 

V. — Vagdb Flashes on the Horizon. 

LriTLE by little, and in the course of time, all this opposition sub- 
sided. There had at firat been exercised against M. Madeleine, 
in virtue of a sort of law which all those who rise must sub- 
mit to, blackenings and calumnies ; then they grew to be nothiug 
more tiian ill-nature, then merely malicious remarks, then even 
this entirely disappeared ; respect became complete, unanimous, 
cordial, and towards 1821 the moment arrived when the word 
'* Monsieur Ic Maire " was pronounced at M. sur M. with almost 
the same accent as "Monseigneur the Bishop" had been 
nronounccd in D. in 1815. X*eople came from a distance of 
ten leagues around to consult M. Madeleine. He put an end 
to differences, he prevented lawsuits, he reconciled enemies. 
Every one took him for the judge, and with good i-eason. It 
seemed as though he had for a soul the book of the natural law. 
It was like an ei)idemic of veneration, which in the course of six 
or seven years gradually took possession of Uie whole district. 

One single man in the towu, in tlie arrondissement, absolutely 
escaped this contagion, and, whatever Father Madeleine did, 
remained his opponent as though a sort of incorruptible and 
imperturbable instinct kept him on tlie alert and uneasy. It 
seems, in fact, as though there existed in certain men a verita- 
ble bestial instinct, though pure and upright, like all instincts, 
which creates antipathies and sympathies, which fatally sepa* 
rates one nature from another nature, which does not hesitate, 
which feels no disquiet, which does not hold its peace, and which 
never belies itself, clear in its obscurity, infallible, imperious^ 
intractable, stubborn to all counsels of the intelligence and to al) 
the dissolvents of reason, and which, in whatever manner des- 
tinies are arranged, secretly warns the man-dog of the presence 
of the man-cat, and the man-fox of the presence of the man- 

It frequently happened that when M. Madeleine was passing 


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FAN TINE. 161 

along a street, calm, affectionate, surrounded by the blessings 
of all, a man of lofty stature, clad in an iron-gray frock-coat 
armed with a heavy cane, and wearing a battered hat, turned 
lound abruptly behind him, and followed him with his eyes 
until he disappeared, with folded arms and a slow shake of the 
head, and his upper lip raised in company with his lower to his 
nose, a sort of significant grimace which might be translated 
by: *' What is that man, after all? I certainly have seen him 
somewhere. In any case, I am not his dupe." 

This pei-son, grave with a gravity which was almost menacing, 
was one of those men who, even when only seen by a rapid 
glimpse, arrest the spectator's attention. 

His name was Javert, and he belonged to the police. 

At M. sur M. he exercised the unpleasant but useful func- 
tions of an inspector. He had not seen Madeleine's beginnings. 
Javert owed the post which he occupied to the protection of 
M. Chabouillet, the secretary of the Minister of State, Comte 
Angles, then prefect of police at Paris. When Javert arrived 
at M. sur M. the fortune of the great manufacturer was already 
made, and Father Madeleine had become Monsieur Madeleine. 

Certain police officers have a peculiar physiognomy, which is 
complieated with an air of baseness mingled with an air of 
authority. Javert possessed this physiognomy minus the base- 

It is our conviction that if souls were visible to the ejes, we 
should be able to see distinctly that sti-ange thing that each one 
individual of the human race corresponds to some one of the 
species of the animal creation ; and we could easily recognize 
this truth, hardly perceived by the thinker, that from the oyster 
to the eagle, from the pig to the tiger, all animals exist in man, 
and that each one of them is in a man. Sometimes even several 
of them at a time. 

Animals are nothing else than the figures of our virtues and 
our vices, straying before our eyes, the visible phantoms of our 
souls. God shows them to us in order to induce us to reflect. 
Only since animals are mere shadows, God has not made them 
capable of education in the full sense of the word ; what is the 
lise? On the contrary, our souls being realities and having a 
goal which is appropriate to them, God has bestowed on them 
intelligence ; that is to say, the possibility of education. Social 
education, when well done, can always draw from a soul, of 
whatever sort it may be, the utility which it contains. 

This, be it said, is of course from the restricted point of 
Hew of the terrestrial life which is apparent, and without pre- 


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judging the profound question of the anterior or ulterior person* 
ality of the beings which are not man. The visible / in nowise 
authorizes the thinker to deny the latent J. Having made this 
reservation, let us pass on. 

Now, if the reader will admit, for a moment, with us, tiiat in 
every man there is one of the animal species of creation, it will 
be easy for us to say what there was in Police Officer Javert. 

The peasants of Asturias are convinced that in every litter of 
solves there is one dog, which is killed by the mother because, 
otherwise, as he grew up, he would devour the other little ones. 

Give to this dog-son of a wolf a human face, and the result 
will be Javert. 

Javert had been bom in prison, of a fortune-teller, whose 
husband was in the galleys. As he grew up, he thought that 
he was outside the pale of society, and he despaired of ever re- 
entering it. He observed that society unpardoningly excludes 
two classes of men, — those who attack it and those who guard 
it ; he had no choice except between these two classes ; at the 
same time, he was conscious of an indescribable foundation of 
rigidity, regularity, and probity, complicated with ah inexpres- 
sible hatred for the race of bohemians whence he was sprung. 
He entered the police ; he succeeded there. At forty years of 
age he was an inspector. 

During his youth he had been employed in the convict estab- 
lishments of the South. 

Before proceeding further, let us come to an understanding 
as to those words, *' human face," which we have just applied 
to Javert. 

The human face of Javert consisted of a flat nose, with two 
deep nostrils, towards which enormous whiskers ascended on 
his cheeks. One felt ill at ease when he saw these two forests 
and these two caverns for the first time . When Javert laughed , — 
and his laugh was rare and terrible, — his thin lips parted and re- 
vealed to view not only his teeth, but his gums, and around his 
nose there formed a flattened and savage fold, as on the muzzle 
of a wild beast. Javert, serious, was a watch-dog ; when he 
laughed, he was a tiger. As for the rest, he had very little 
skull and a great deal of jaw ; his hair concealed his forehead 
and fell over his eyebrows ; between his eyes there was a per- 
manent, central frown, like an imprint of wrath ; his gaze was 
obscure; his mouth pursed up and terrible; his air that of 
ferocious command. 

This man was composed of two very simple and two very 
good sentiments, comparatively ; but he rendered them almost 


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bad, by dint of exaggerating them, — respect for authority, 
hatred of rebellion; and in his eyes, murder, robbery, all 
crimes, are only forms of rebellion. He enveloped in a blind 
and profound faith every one who had a function in the state, 
from the prime minister to the rural policeman. He covered 
with scorn, aversion, and disgust every one who had once crossed 
the legal threshold of evil. He was absolute, and admitted no 
exceptions. On the one hand, he said, " The functionary can 
•nake no mistake ; the magistrate is never in the wrong." On 
the other hand, he said, "These men are irremediably lost. 
Nothing good can come from them." He fully shared the opin» 
ion of those extreme minds wiiich attribute to human law I know 
not what power of making, or, if the reader will have it so, of 
authenticating, demons, and who place a Styx at the base of 
society. He was stoical, serious, austere ; a melancholy dreamer, 
humble and haught^^ like fanatics. His glance was like a gim* 
let, cold and piercing. His whole life hung on these two words : 
watchfulness and supervision. He had introduced a straight 
line into what is the most crooked thing in the world ; he pos- 
sessed the conscience of Tiis usefulness, the religion of his func- 
tions, and he was a spy as other men are priests. Woe to the 
man who fell into his hands ! He would have arrested his own 
father, if the latter had escaped from the galleys, and would 
have denounced his mother, if she bad broken her ban. And 
he would have done it with that sort of inward satisfaction which 
is conferred by virtue. And, withal, a life of privation, isola- 
tion, abnegation, chastity, with never a diversion. It was im- 
placable duty ; the police understood, as the Spartans understood 
Sparta, a pitiless lying in wait, a ferocious honesty, a marble 
informer, Brutus in Vidocq. 

Javerf s whole person was expressive of the man who spies 
and who withdraws himself from observation. The mystical 
school of Joseph de Maistre, which at that epoch seasoned with 
lofty cosmo<îony those things which were called the ultra news- 
papers, would not have failed to declare that Javert was a S3'm- 
bol- His brow was not visible ; it disappeared beneath his hat » 
his eyes were not visible, since they were lost under his eye* 
brows : his chin was not visible, for it was plunged in his cravat : 
his hands were not visible ; the}' were drawn up in his sleeves : 
and his cane was not visible ; he carried it under his coat. But 
when the occasion presented itself, there was suddenly seen to 
emerge from all this shadow, as from an ambuscade, a narrow 
and angular forehead, a baleful glance, a threatening chin, enor* 
moas hands, and a monstrous cudgel. 


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In his leîsare moments, which were far from flreqaent, he read, 
although he hated books ; this caused him to be not wholly illit 
erate. This could be recognized by some emphasis in hk 

As we have said, he had no vices. When he was pleased 
with himself, he permitted himself a pinch of snuff. Thereil 
lay his connection with humanity. 

Tlie reader will have no difficulty in understanding that Javert 
was the terror of that whole class which the annual statistics of 
the Ministry of Justice designates under the rubric, Vagrants. 
Tlie name of Javert routed them by its mere utterance ; the face 
of Javert petrified them at sight. 

Such was this formidable man* 

Javert was like an eye constantly fixed on M. Madeleine* An 
eye full of suspicion and conjecture. M. Madeleine had finally 
perceived the fact ; but it seemed to be of no importance to him. 
He did not even put a question to Javert ; he neither sought nof 
avoided him ; he bore that embarrassing and almost oppressive 
gaze without appearing to notice it. .He treated Javert with 
ease and courtesy, as he did all the rest of the world. 

It was divined, from some words which escaped Javert, that 
he had secretly investigated, with that curiosity which belongs 
to the race, and into which there enters as much instinct as will, 
all the anterior traces which Father Madeleine might have left 
elsewhere. He seemed to know, and he sometimes said in cov- 
ert words, that some one had gleaned certain information in a 
certain district about a family which had disappeared. Once he 
chanced to say, as he was talking to himself, ^^ I think I have 
him I '* Then he remained pensive for three days, and uttered 
not a word. It seemed that the thread which he thought he held 
had broken. 

Moreover, and this furnishes the necessary corrective for the 
too absolute sense which certain words might present, there car 
be nothing really infallible in a human creature, and the |>ecu 
liarity of instinct is that it can become confused, thrown off th« 
track, and defeated. Otherwise, it would be superior to intelli- 
gence, and the beast would be found to be provided with a bet- 
ter light than man. 

Javert was evidently somewhat disconcerted by the perfect 
natnralness and tranquillity of M. Madeleine. 

One day, nevertheless, his strange manner appeared to pro- 
dace an impression on M. Madeleine. It was on the foDowing 


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FAN TINE. ^6d 

VI. — Father Fauchelevent. 

Om morning M. Madeleine was passing through an nnpaTed 
alley of M. sur M. ; he heard a noise» and saw a group some 
distance away. He approached. An old man named Fathei 
Fauchelevent had just fallen beneath his cart, his horse hav« 
mg tumbled down. 

This Fauchelevent was one of the few enemies whom M. Mad 
eleine bad at that time. When Madeleine arrived in the neigh* 
borhood, Fauchelevent, an ex-notary and a peasant who was 
almost educated, had a business which was beginning to be in 
a bad way. Fauchelevent had seen this simple workman grow 
rich, while he, a lawyer, was being mined. This had filled him 
with jealousy, and he had done all he could^ on every occasion, 
to injure Madeleine. Then bankmptcy had come ; and as the 
old man had nothing left but a cart and a horse, and neither 
family nor children, he had turned carter. 

The horse had two broken legs and could not rise. The old 
man was caught in the wheels. The fall had been so unlucky 
that the whole weight of the vehicle rested on his breast. The 
cart was quite heavily laden. Father Fauchelevent was rattling 
in the throat in the most lamentable manner. They had tried, 
but in vain, to drag him out. An unmethodical effort, aid awk> 
wardly given, a wrong shake, might kill him. It was impossible 
to disengage him otherwise than by lifting the vehicle off of him. 
Javert, who had come up at the moment of the accident, had 
sent for a jack-screw. 

M. Madeleine arrived. People stood aside respectfully. 

^' Help ! ** cried old Fauchelevent ^' Who will be good and 
save the old man ? " 

M. Madeleine turned towards those present: — 

'* Is there a jack-screw to be had ?•* 

*^ One has been sent for,*' answered the peasant. 

" How long will it take to get it 1 ** 

** They have gone for the nearest, to Flachot's place, whert 
there is a farrier ; but it makes no difference \ it will take a jooû 
quarter of an hour.** 

^* A quarter of an hour Y '^ exclaimed Madeleine. 

It hsA rained on the preceding night ; the soil was soakcu. 
The cart was sinking deeper into the earth every moment, and 
cmshing the old carter^s breast more and more. It was evident 
Ibat his ribs would be broken in five minute» more 


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" It is impossible to wait another quarter of an hour," said 
Madeleine to the peasants, who were staring at him. 

« We must ! '* 

" But it will be too late then ! Don't you see that the cart 
is sinking ? " 

« Well ! '' 

<* Listen/' resumed Madeleine ; " there is still room enougli 
under the cart to allow a man to crawl beneath it and raise it 
with his back. Only half a minute, and the poor man can be 
taken out. Is there any one here who has stout loins and 
heart ? There are five louis d'or to be earned ! " 

Not a man in the group stirred. 

" Ten louis," said Madeleine. 

The persons present dropped their eyes. One of them mut- 
tered : "A man would need to be devilish strong. And then 
he runs the risk of getting crushed ! " 

"Come," began Madeleine again, "twenty louis." 

The same silence. 

" It is not the will which is lacking," said a voice. 

M. Madeleine turned round, and recognized Javert He had 
not noticed him on his arrival. 

Javert went on: — 

" It is strength. One would have to be a terrible man to do 
such a thing as lift a cart like that on his back." 

Then, gazing fixedly at M. Madeleine, he went on, emphar 
sizing every word that he uttered : — 

" Monsieur Madeleine, I have never known but one man 
capable of doing what you ask." 

Madeleine shuddered. 

Javert added, with an air of indifference, but without remov 
ing his eyes from Madeleine : — 

" He was a convict." 

" Ah ! " said Madeleine. 

" In the galleys at Toulon." 

Madeleine turned pale. 

Meanwhile, the cart continued to sink slowly. Father Fau- 
chelevent rattled in the throat, and shrieked : — 

" I am strangling ! My ribs are breaking ! a screw ! some- 
thing ! Ah ! " 
. Madeleine glanced about him. 

" Is there, then, no one who wishes to earn twenty louis and 
save the life of this i)oor old man ? " ' 

No one stirred. Javert resumed ; — 

" I have never known but one man who could take the place 
of a screw, and he was that convict." 


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FANTiNR. 1er 

'* Ah I It is crashing me I " cried the old man. 

Madeleine raised his head, met Javert's falcon eye still fixed 
open him, looked at the motionless peasants, and smiled sadly. 
Then, without saying a word, he fell on his knees, and before 
the crowd had even had time to utter a cry, he was underneath 
the vehicle* 

A terrible moment of expectation and silence ensued. 

They beheld Madeleine, almost flat on his stomach beneath 
that terrible weight, make two vain efforts to bring his knees 
and his elbows together. They shouted to him, '* Father Made- 
leine, come out ! '* Old Fauchelevent himself said to him, 
^' Monsieur Madeleine, go away ! You see that I am fated to 
die I Leave me 1 You will get yourself crushed also 1 *' Mad- 
eleine made no reply. 

All the spectators were panting. The wheels had continued 
to sink, and it had become almost impossible for Madeleine to 
make his way from under the vehicle. 

Suddenly the enormous mass was seen to quiver, the cart 
rose slowly, the wheels half emerged from the ruts. They heard 
a stifled voice crying, ^^Make haste! Help I" It was Made- 
leine, who had Just made a final effort. 

They rushed forwards. The devotioa of a single man had 
given force and courage to all. The cart was raised by twenty 
arms. Old Fauchelevent was saved. 

Madeleine rose. He was pale, though dripping with perspira- 
tion. His clothes were torn and covered with mud. All wept. 
The old man kissed his knees and called him the good God. 
As for him, he bore upon his countenance an indescribable ex- 
pression of happy and celestial suffering, and he fixed his ti*an- 
quil eye on Javert, who was still staring at him. 

yn. — Fauchsleyemt becomes a Gardener in Paris. 

Faucheleyent had dislocated his kneepan in his fall. Father 
Madeleine had him conveyed to an infirmary which he had es- 
tablished for his workmen in the factory building itself, and 
which was served by two sisters of charity. On the following 
morning the old man found a thousand-franc bank-note on his 
night-stand, with these words in Father Madeleine's writing : " i 
purchase your horse and cxirt*' The cart was broken, and the 
horse was dead. Fauchelevent recovered, but his knee remained 
Btiff. M* Madeleine, on the recommendation of the Bisters of 


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charily and of his priest, got the good man a place as gardenei 
in a female convent in the Rue Saint- Antoine in Paris. 

Some time afterwards, M. Madeleine was appointed ma>'ot. 
The first time that Javert beheld M. Madeleine clothed in the 
scarf which gave him authority over the town, he felt the sort 
of shudder which a watch-dog might experiance on smelling u 
wolf in his master's clothes. From that time forth he avoiclt»() 
.him as much as he possibly could. When the requirements of 
the service imperatively demanded it, and he could not do other- 
wise than meet the mayor, he addressed him with profound re 

This prosperity created at M. sur M. by Father Made* 
leine had, besides the visible signs which we have mentioned, 
another symptom which was none the less significant for not being 
visible. This never deceives. When the population suffers, 
when work is lacking, when there is no commerce, the tax-payer 
resists imposts through penury, he exhausts and oversteps his 
respite, and the state expends a great deal of money in the 
charges for compelling and collection. When work is abundant, 
when the country is rich and happy, the taxes are paid easily 
and cost the state nothing. It may be said, that there is one 
infallible thermometer of the public misery and riches,— the cost 
of collecting the taxes. In the course of seven years the ex- 
pense of collecting the taxes had diminished three-fourths in 
the arrondissement of M. sur M., and this led to this arron- 
dissement being frequently cited from all the rest by M. de 
Villèle, then Minister of Finance. 

Such was the condition of the country when Fan tine returned 
thither. No ope remembered her. Fortunately, the door of M. 
Madeleine's factory was like the face of a friend. She presen- 
ted herself there, and was admitted to the women's workroom. 
The trade was entirely new to Fantine ; she could not be very 
skilful at it, and she therefore earned but little by her day's 
work ; but it was sufficient ; the problem was solved ; she was 
earning her living. 

Vni. — Madamb Vioturnien expends Thibtt Francs ok 

When Fantine saw that she was making her living, she felt 
joyful for a moment. To live honestly by her own labor, what 
morcy from heaven ! The t.i8te for work had really returned to 
her. She bought a looking-giass, took pleasure in surveying 


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tk it her youth, her beautiful hair, her fine teeth ; she forgot 
many things ; she thought only of Cosette aiid of the possible 
future, and was almost happy. She hired a little rooui and 
furnished on credit on the strength of her future work — a lin- 
gering trace of her improvident ways. As she was not able to 
»ay that she was married, she took good care, as we have seen, 
not to mention her little girl. 

At first, as the reader has seen, she paid the Thénardiers 
promptly. As she only knew how to sign her name, she was 
obliged to write through a public letter- writer. 

She wrote often, and this was noticed. It began to be said 
in an undertone, in the women's workroom, that Fan tine ^^ wrote 
letters " and that *^ she had ways about her." 

There is no one for spying on people's actions like those 
who are not concerned in them. Why does that gentleman 
never come except at nightfall ? Why does Mr. So-and-So never 
hang his key on its nail on Tuesday ? Why does he always take 
the narrow streets ? Why does Madame always descend from her 
hackney-coach before reaching her house? Why does she send 
out to purchase six sheets of note paper, when she has a ^^ whole 
stationer's shop full of it?" etc. There exist beings who^ for 
the sake of obtaining the key to these enigmas, which are, more- 
over, of no consequence whatever to them,. spend more money, 
waste more time, take more trouble, than would be required for 
ten good actions, and that gratuitously, for their own pleasure, 
without receiving any other payment for their curiosity than 
curiosity. They will follow up such and such a man or woman 
for whole days ; they will do sentry duty for hours at a time on 
the comers of the streets, under alley-way doors at night, in 
cold and rain ; they will bribe errand-porters, they will make the 
drivers of hackney-coaches and lackeys tipsy, buy a waiting- 
maid, suborn a porter. Why? For no reason. A pure passion 
for seeing, knowing, and penetrating into things. A pure itch 
for talking. And often these secrets once known, these mys- 
•eries made public, these enigmas illuminated by the light of 
day, bring on catastrophies, duels, failures, the ruin of families, 
and broken lives, to the great loy of those who have " found 
out everything," without any interest in the matter, and by pure 
mstinct.* A sad thing. 

Certain persons are malicious solely through a necessity for 
talking. Their conversation, the chat of the drawing-room, gos- 
sip of the anteroom, is like those chimneys which consume 
wood rapidly ; they need a great amount of combustibles ; and 
their combustibles are furnished by their neighbors. 


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So Fantine was watched. 

In addition, many a one was jealous of her golden hair and 
of her white teeth. 

It was remarked that in the workroom she often turned aside, 
in the midst of the rest, to wipe away a tear. These were the 
moments when she was thinking of her child ; perhaps, also, of 
the man whom she had loved. 

Breaking the gloomy bonds of the past is a mournful tas]^. 

It was observed that she wrote twice a month at least, anc 
that she paid the carriage on the letter. They managed to ob 
tain the address : Monsieur^ Monsieur Thénardier^ inn^keepe: 
at MontfermeiL The public writer, a good old man who could 
not fill his stomach with red wine without emptying his pocket 
of secrets, was made to talk in the wine-shop. In short, it 
was discovered that Fantine had a child. ^^She must be a 
pretty sort of a woman." An old gossip was found, who made 
the trip to Montfermeil, talked to the Thénardiers, and said or 
her return : " For my five and thirty francs I have freed my 
mind. I have seen the child." 

The gossip who did this thing was a gorgon named Madame 
Victurnien, the guardian and door-keeper of every one's virtue. 
Madame Victurnien was fifty -six, and re-enforced the mask of 
ugliness with the mask of age. A quavenng voice, a whimsical 
mind. This old dame had once been young — astonishing fact! 
In her youth, in '93, she had married a monk who had fled from 
his cloister in a red cap, and passed from the Bernardinea to the 
Jacobins. She was dry, rough, peevish, sharp, captious, almost 
venomous ; all this in memory of her monk, whose widow she 
was, and who had ruled over her masterfully and bent her to his 
wilL She was a nettle in which the rustle of the cassock waa 
visible. At the Restoration she had turned bigot, and that 
with so much energy that the priests had forgiven her her monk. 
She had a small property, which she bequeathed with much os- 
tentation to a religious community. She was in high favor at 
the episcopal palace of Arras. So this Madame Victurnien 
went to Montfermeil, and returned with the remark, ^'*I have 
seen the child." 

All this took time. Fantine had been at the factory for more 
than a year, when, one morning, the superintendent of the work- 
room handed lier fifty francs from the mayor, told her that she 
was no longer employed in the shop, and requested her, in the 
mayor's name, to leave the neigliboi'hood; 

This was the very month when the Thénardiers, after having 


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rAJfiTINE. i1\ 

demanded twelve francs instead of six, bad Jnst exacted fifteen 
francs instead of twelve. 

Fantine was overwhelmed. She could not leave the neigh* 
borhood ; she was in debt for her rent and furniture. Fifty 
francs was not sufficient to cancel this debt. She stammered a 
few supplicating words. The superintendent ordered her to 
leave the shop on the instant. Besides, Fantine was only a 
moderately good workwoman. Overcome with shame, even 
.iiore than with despair, she quitted the shop, and returned to 
aer room. So her fault was now known to every one. 

She no longer felt strong enough to say a word. She was 
>d vised to see the mayor ; she did not dare. The mayor had 
^ven her fifty francs because he was good, and had dismissed 
^er because he was just. She bowed before the decision. 

IX. — Madame Victdrnien's Success. 

So the monk's widow was good for something. 

Bat M. Madeleine had heard nothing of all this. Life is fUl 
of just such combinations of events. M. Madeleine was in the 
habit of almost never entering the women's workroom. 

At the head of this room he had placed an elderly spinster, 
whom the priest had provided for him, and he had full confi- 
dence in this superintendent, — a truly respectable person, firm, 
equitable, upright, full of the charity which consists in giving, 
but not having in the same degree that charit}' which consists 
in understanding and in forgiving. M. Madeleine relied wholly 
on her. The best men are often obliged to dele<:^ate their 
authority. It was with this full power, and the conviction that 
she was doing right, that the superintendent had instituted the 
suit, judged, condemned, and excuted Fantine. 

As regards the fifty francs, she had given them from a fund 
irhich M. Madeleine had intrusted to her for charitable pur- 
poses, and for giving assistance to the workwomen, and of 
which she rendered no account. 

Fantine tried to obtain a situation as a servant in the neigh - 
t)orhood; she went from house to house. No one would have 
her. She could not leave town. The second-hand dealer, to 
whom she was in debt for her furniture — and what furniture ! 
— said to her, *'If you leave, I will have you arrested as a 
thief.*' The householder, whom she owed for her rent, said to 
ner, *' You are young and pretty ; you can pay." She divided 
the fiHy francs between the landlord and the furniture-dealer, 


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returned to the latter three-quarters of his goods, kept oiuj 
necessaries, and found herself without work, without a tiade, 
with nothing but her bed, and still about fifty francs iu debt. 

She began to make coarse shirts for soldiers of the garri- 
son, and earned twelve sous a day. Her daughter cost her 
ten. It was at this point that she began to pay the Thénardiera 

However, the old woman who lighted her candle for hei 
^hen she returned at night, taught her the art of living in 
misery. Back of living on little, there is the living on nothing. 
These are the two chambers ; the first is dark, the second is 

Fantine learned how to live without fire entirely in the winter ; 
how to give up a bird which eats a half a farthing's worth of 
millet every two days ; how to make a coverlet of one's petti- 
coat, and a petticoat of one's coverlet ; how to save one's can- 
dle, by taking one's meals by the light of the opposite window. 
No one knows all that certain feeble creatures, who have grown 
old in privation and honesty, can get out of a sou. It ends by 
being a talent. Fantine acquired this sublime talent, and re- 
gained a little courage. 

At this epoch she said to a neighbor, '' Bah! I say to m3'- 
■elf, by only sleeping five hours, and working all the rest oi 
the time at my sewing, I shall alwa3s manage to nearly earn 
my bread. And, then, when one is sad, one eats less. Well, 
sufferings, uneasiness, a little bread on one hand, trouble on the 
other, — all this will support me." 

It would have been a great happiness to have her little girl 
with her in this distress. She thought of having her come. 
But what then ! Make her share her own destitution ! And 
then, she was in debt to the Thénardiers ! How could she pay 
them? And the journey ! How pay for that? 

The old woman who had given her lessons in what may bf? 
called the life of indigence, was a sainted spin§ter named Mar- 
guerite, who was pious with a true piety, poor and charitable 
towards the poor, and even towards the rich, knowing how to 
write just sufficiently to sign herself Mai^uerite, and believing 
in God, which is science. 

There are many such virtuous people in this lower world ; 
some day they will be in the world above. This life has a 

At first, Fantine bad been so ashamed that she had not 
dared to go out. 

When she was in the street, she divined that people tarned 


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FANTiNE. 173 

rouud behind her^ and pointed at her ; every one stared at her. 
and no one greeted her; the cold and bitter scorn of the pass- 
ers-by penetrated her very flesh and soul like a north wind. 

It seems as though an unfoitunate woman were utterly bare 
beneath the sarcasm and the curiosity of all in small towns. 
In Palis, at least, no one knows you, and this obscurity is a 
£;arment. Oh ! how she would have liked to betake herself to 
Paris ! Impossible I 

She was obliged to accustom herself to disrepute, as she had 
accnstomed herself to indigence. Gradually she decided on 
her course. At the expiration of two or three months she 
shook off her shame, and began to go about as though there 
were nothing the matter. '^ It is all the same to me," she said. 

She went and came, bearing her head well up, with a bitter 
smile, and was conscious that she was becoming brazen-faced. 

Madame Victurnien sometimes saw her passing, from her 
window, noticed the distress of *' that creature" who, " thanks 
to her," had been "put back in her proper place," and con- 
gratulated herself. The happiness of the evil-minded is black. 

Excess of toil wore out Fantine, and the little dry cough 
which troubled her increased. She sometimes said to her neigh* 
bor. Marguerite, " Just feel how hot my hands are ! " 

Nevertheless, when she combed her beautiful hair in the 
morning with an old broken comb, and it flowed about her like 
floss silk, she experienced a moment of happ^* coquetry. 

X. — Result op the Success. 

She had been dismissed towards the end of the winter ; the 
summer passed, but winter came again. Short days, less work. 
Winter: no warmth, no light, no noonday, the evening join- 
ing on to the morning, fogs, twilight ; the window is gray ; it 
is impossible to see clearly at it. The sky is but a veut-Iiolc. 
The whole day is a cavern. The sun has the air of a beggar. 
A frightful season! Winter changes the water of heaven 
and the heart of man into a stone. Her creditors harassed 

Fantine earned too little. Her debts had increased. The 
Thénardiers, who were not promptly paid, wrote to her con- 
stanth' letters whose contents drove her to despair, and whose 
carriage ruinecl her. One day they wrote to her that her little 
Gosette was entirely naked in that cold weather, that slie 
needed a woollen skirt, and that her mother must send at leasl 


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ten francs for this. She received the letter, and crushed it w 
her liands all day long. That evening she went into a barber's 
sliop at the corner of the street, and pulled out her comb. Her 
admh*able golden hair fell to her knees. 

*' What, splendid hair ! " exclaimed the barber. 

" IIow much will you give me for it?" said she. 

'' Ten francs." 

" Cut it off." 

She purchased a knitted petticoat and sent it to the Thénar- 
Jiers. This petticoat made the Thénardiers furious. It was 
the money that they wanted. They gave the petticoat to Épo- 
nine. The poor Lark continued to shiver. 

Fantine thought: '•My child is no longer cold. I have 
clothed her with my hair." She i)ut on little round caps wliich 
concealed her shorn head, and in which she was still pretty. 

Dark thoughts held possession of Fan tine's heart. 

When she saw that she could no longer dress her hair, she 
began to hate every one about her. She had long shared the 
universal veneration for Father Madeleine; yet, by dint of 
repeating to herself that it was he who had discharged her, that 
he was the cause of her unhappiness, she came to hate him 
also, and most of all. When she passed the factor}' in working 
hours, when the workpeople were at tlie door, she affected to 
laugh and sing. 

An old workwoman who once saw her laughing and singings |n 
this fashion said, '' There's a girl who will come to a bad end." 

She took a lover, the first who offered, a man whom she did 
not love, out of bravado and with rnge in her heart. He was a 
miserable scamp, a sort of mendicant musician, a lazy begprar, 
who beat her, and who abandoned her as she bad taken him, iu 

She adored her child. 

The lower she descended, the darker everything grew about 
iKT, the more radiant shone that little angel at the bottom of 
her heart. She said, " When I get rich, I will have my Cosette 
with me ; " and she laughed. Her cough did not leave her, and 
she had sweats on her back. 

One day she received from the Thénardiers a letter couebed 
in the following terms: ^'Cosette is ill with a malady which is 
going the rounds of the neighborhood. A miliary fever, thev 
call it. Expensive drugs are required. This is rnining us, and 
we can no longer pay for them. If you do no^ send us fortv 
franca before the week is out, the little one will be dead." 

She burst out laughing, and said to her old neighbor : ^^ Ah 1 


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FAN TINE. 175 

they are good! Forty francs! the idea! That makes two 
napoleons ! Where do they think I am to get them ? These 
peasants are stupid, truly." 

Nevertheless she went to a dormer window in the staircase 
and read the letter once more. Then she descended the stairs 
aud emerged^ running and leaping and still laughing. 

Some one met her and said to her, " What makes you so 

She replied : ^' A fine piece of stupidity that some country 
people have written to me. They demand forty francs of me 
So much for you, you peasants I " 

As she crossed the square, she saw a great many people col- 
lected around a carriage of eccentric shape, upon the top of 
which stood a man dressed in red, who was holding forth. He 
was a quack dentist on his rounds, who was offering to the pub- 
lic fiill sets of teeth, opiates, powders, and elixirs. 

Fantiue mingled in the group, and began to laugh with the 
rest at the harangue, which contained slang for the populace 
and jargon for respectable people. The tooth-puller espied the 
lovely, laughing girl, and suddenly exclaimed: "You have 
beautiful teeth, you girl there, who are laughing ; if you want 
to sell me your palettes, I will give you a gold napoleon apiece 
for them." 

"What are ray palettes?" asked Fantine. 

"The palettes," replied the dental professor, " are the front 
teeth, the two upper ones." 

" How horrible ! " exclaimed Fantine. 

'* Two napoleons ! " grumbled a toothless old woman who 
was present. '* Here's a lucky girl ! " 

Fantine fled and stopped her ears that she might not hear the 
hoarse voice of the man shouting to her : " Reflect, my beauty ! 
two napoleons ; they may prove of service. If your heart bids 
you, come this evening to the inn of the Tillac é^ Argent; you 
will find me there." 

Fantine returned home. She was furious, and related the 
occurrence to her good neighbor Marguerite : " Can you under- 
stand such a thing ? Is he not an abominable man ? How can 
they allow such people to go about the country ! Pull out my 
two front teeth I Why, I should l)e horrible I My hair will 
grow again, but my teeth ! Ah ! what a monster of a man ! I 
ehould prefer to throw myself head first on the pavement from 
the fifth story ! He told me that he should be at the Tillar 
^Argent this evening." 

" And what did he offer?" asked Marguerite. 


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** Two napoleons." 

*' That makes forty francs/* 

" Yes," said Fantine ; '' that makes forty francs/* 

She remained thouglitful, and began her work. At the ex 
piration of a quarter of an hour she left her sewing and went to 
read the Théiiardiers' letter once more on the staircase. 

On her return, she said to Marguerite, who was at work 
beside her : — 

" What is a miliary fever? Do you know?" 

" Yes," answered the old spinster ; '' it is a diseaae." 

*' Does it require many drugs?" 

"Oh! terrible drugs/' 

" How does one get it? " 

" It is a malady tliat one gets without knowing how.** 

" Then it attacks children ? " 

" Children in particular." 

'* Do people die of it? " 

" They ma}/* said Marguerite. 

Fantine left the ix>om and went to read her letter onoe mora 
on the staircase. 

That evening she went out, and was seen to turn her steps in 
the direction of the Rue de Paris, where the inns are situated. 

The next morning, when Marguerite entered Fan tine's room 
before daylight, — for they always worked together, and in this 
manner used only one candle for the two, — she found Fantine 
seated on her bed, pale and frozen. She had not lain down. 
Her cap had fallen on her knees. Her candle had burned all 
night, and was almost entirely consumed. Marguerite halted 
on the threshold, petrified at this tremendous wastefuluess, and 
exclaimed ; — 

" Lord i the candle is all burned out! Something has hap- 

Then she looked at Fantine, who turned toward her her head 
bereft of its hair. 

Fantine had grown ten years older since the preceding night. 

" Jesus ! " said Marguerite," what is the matter with you, 

''Nothing," replied Fantine. *' Quite the contrary. My 
child will not die of that frightful malady, for lack of succor. 
I am content." 

So saying, she pointed out to the spinster two napoleons 
which were glittering on the table. 

*' Ah ! Jesus God ! " cried Marguerite. " Why, it is a for- 
tune ! Where did you get those louis d'or ? " 


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**I got them," replied Faotine. 

At the same time she smiled. The candle illaminated her 
eountenance. It was a bloody smile. A reddish saliva soiled 
the comers of her lips, and she had a black hole in her mouth. 

The two teeth had been extracted. 

She sent the forty francs to Monfermeuil. 

After all it was a ruse of the Thénardiers to obtain money. 
Cosette was not ill. 

Fantine threw her mirror out of the window. She had long 
since quitted her cell on the second floor for an attic with 
ouly a latch to fasten it, next the roof; one of those attics 
whose extremity foims an angle with the floor, and knocks you 
on Uie head every instant. The poor occupant can reach the 
end of his chamber as he can the end of his destiuy, only by 
bending over more and more. 

She had no longer a bed ; a rag which she called her coverlet, 
a mattress on the floor, and a scatless chair still remained. A 
little rosebush which slie had, had dried up, forgotten, in one cor- 
ner. In the other corner was a butter-pot to hold water, which 
froze in winter, and in which the various levels of the water 
remained long marked by these circles of ice. She had lost her 
shame ; she lost her coquetry. A final sign. She went out, 
witii dirt}' caps. Whether from lack of time or from indiffér- 
ence, she no longer mended her linen. As the heels wore out, 
she dragged her stockings down into her shoes. This was evi- 
dent from the perpendicular wrinkles. She patched her bodice 
which was old and worn out, with scraps of calico which tore at 
the slightest movement. The people to whom she was in- 
debted made ''scenes" and gave her no peace. She found 
them in the street, slie found them again on her staircase. 
She passed many a night weeping and thinking. Her eyes 
were very bright, and she felt a steady pain in her shoulder 
towards the top of the left shoulder-blade. She coughed a 
great deal. She deeply hated Father Madeleine, but made no 
ix^mplaint. She sewed seventeen hours a day ; but a contractor 
for the work of prisons, who made the prisoners work at a 
discount, suddenly made prices fall, which reduced the daily 
earnings of working- women to nine sous. Seventeen hours of 
toil, and nine sous a day ! Her creditors were more pitiless 
than ever. The second-hand dealer, who had taken back nearly 
all his furniture, said to her incessantly ''When will you pay 
roe, you hussy? " What did they want of her, good God ! She 
felt that she was being hunted, and something of the wild beast 
developed in her. About the same time, Thénurdier wrote to 


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her that he had waited with decidedly too much amiabilfty 
and that he must have a hundred francs at once ; otherwise ha 
would turn little Cosette out of doora, convalescent as she was 
from her heavy illness, into the cold and the streets, and that 
she might do what she liked with herself, and die if she chose. 
'* A hundred francs," thought Fan tine. '* But in what trad^ 
5Hn one earn a hundred sous a day ? " 
" Come ! "said she, " let us sell what is left.*' 
The unfortunate girl became a woman of the town* 

XI. — Christus nos liberayit. 

What is this history of Fantine? It is society purchasing a 

From whom ? From misery. 

From hunger, cold, isolation, destitution. A dolorous bar- 
gain. A soul for a morsel of bread. Misery offers; society 

The sacred law of Jesus Christ governs our civilization, but 
it does not, as yet, permeate it ; it is said that slavery has dis- 
appeared from ïiuropean civilization. This is a mistake. It 
still exists ; but it weighs only upon the woman, and it is called 

It weighs upon the woman, that is to say, upon grace, weak- 
ness, beauty, maternit}'. This is not one of the least of man*8 

At the point in this melancholy drama which we have dow 
reached, nothing is left to Fantine of that which she had for- 
merly been. 

She has become marble in becoming mire. Whoever touches 
her feels cold. She passes ; she endures you ; she ignores you ; 
3hc is the severe and dishonored figure. Life and the soi*ial 
order have said their last word for her. All has happened to 
her that will hapi)en to her. She has felt everything, borne 
3verything, experienced everything, suffered everything, lost 
everything, mourned everything. She is resigned, with that 
resignation which resembles indifference, as death resembles 
sleep. She no longer avoids anything. Let all the clouds fall 
upon her, and all the ocean sweep over her ! What matters it 
to her? She is a sponge that is soaked. 

At least, she believes it to be so ; but it is an error to imag^ine 
tliat fate can be exhausted, and that one has reached the bottom 
of anything whatever. 


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Alas ! What are all these fates, driven on pell-mell? Whithei 
are they going? Why are they thus? 
He who knows that sees the whole of the shadow. 
He is alone. His name is God. 

Xn. — M. Bamatabois's iNAcnvnr. 

Therb is, in all small towns, and there was at M. sur M. iii 
particular, a class of young men who nibble away an income of 
fifteen hundred francs with the same air with which their proto* 
types devour two hundred thousand francs a year in Paris. These 
are beings of the great neuter species : impotent men, parasites, 
cyphers, who have a little land, a little folly, a little wit ; who 
would be rustics in a drawing-room, and who think themselves 
gentlemen in the dram-shop ; who say, *' My fields, my peasants, 
my woods " ; who hiss actresses at the theatre to prove that 
they are persons of taste ; quarrel with the officers of the garri- 
son to prove that they are men of war ; hunt, smoke, yawn, drink, 
smell of tobacco, play billiards, stare at travellers as they de- 
scend from the diligence, live at the café, dine at the inn, have 
a dog which eats the bones under the table, and a mistress who 
eats the dishes on the table ; who stick at a sou, exaggerate the 
fashions, admire tragedy, despise women, wear out their old 
boots, copy London through Paris, and Paris through the me- 
dium of Pont-à-Mousson, grow old as dullards, never work, 
serve no use, and do no great harm. 

M. Félix Tholomyès, had he remained in his own province 
and never beheld Paris, would have been one of these men. 

If they were richer, one would say, "They are dandies" ; if 
they were poorer, one would sa}-, " They are idlere." They are 
simply men without employment. Among these unemployed 
there are bores, the bored, dreamers, and some knaves. 

At that period a dandy was composed of a tall collar, a big 
cravat, a watch with trinkets, three vests of different colors, 
worn one on top of the other — the red and blue inside ; of a 
short-waisted olive coat, with a codfish tail, a double row of 
silver buttons set close to each other and running up to the 
shoulder; and a pair of trousers of a lighter shade of olive, 
ornamented on the two seams with an indefinite, but always 
uneven, number of lines, varying from one to eleven — a limit 
which was never exceeded. Add to this, high shoes with little 
irons on the heels, a tall hat with a narrow brim, hair worn in a 
taft« an emormous cane, and conversation set off by puns o( 


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Potier. Over all, spurs and a mustache. At that epoch mu» 
taches indicated the bonigeois, and spurs the pedestrian. 

The provincial dandy wore the longest of spurs and the fierc- 
est of mustaches. 

It was the period of the conflict of the republics of South 
\merica with the king of Spain, of Bolivar against Morillo. 
Narrow-brimmed hats were royalist, and were called moriUos; 
liberals wore hats with wide brims, which were called bolivars. 

Eight or ten months, then, after that which is related in the 
preceding pages, towards the first of January, 1823, on a SDowy 
evening, one of these dandies, one of these unemplo3'ed, a 
" right thinker," for he wore a morillo, and was, moreover, 
warmly enveloped in one of those large cloaks which completed 
the fashionable costume in cold weather, was amusing himself 
by tormenting a creature who was prowling about in a ball-dress, 
with neck uncovered and flowers in her hair, in front of the 
oflScers' café. This dandy was smoking, for he was decidedly 

Each time that the woman passed in front of him, he bestowed 
on her, together with a puff from his cigar, some apostrophe 
which he considered witty and mirthful, such as, "How ugly 
you are ! — Will you get out of my sight ? — You have no teeth ! " 
etc., etc. This gentleman was known as M. Bamatabois. The 
woman, a melancholy, decorated spectre which went and came 
through the snow, made him no reply, did not even glance at 
him, and nevertheless continued her promenade in silence, and 
with a sombre regularity, which brought her every five minutes 
within reach of this sarcasm, like the condemned soldier who 
returns under the rods. The small effect which he produced no 
doubt piqued the lounger ; and taking advantage of a moment 
when her back was turned, he crept up behind her with the jjait 
of a wolf, and stifling his laugh, bent down, picked up a handful 
of snow from the pavement, and thrust it abruptly into her hack, 
between her bare shoulders. The woman uttered a roar, whirlecl 
round, gave a leap like a panther, and hurled herself ujwn the 
man, burying her nails in his face, with the most frightful words 
which could fall from the guard-room into the gutter. These 
insults, poured forth in a voice roughened by brandy, did, in- 
deed, proceed in hideous wise from a mouth which lacked ita 
two front teeth. It was Fantine. 

At the noise thus produced, the oflScers ran out in throng 
from the café, passers-by collected, and a large and merry cir- 
cle, hooting and applauding, was formed around this whirlwind 
composed of two beings, whom there was some diflliculty id 


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#BO(^!zîng as a man and a woman : the man struggling, his hal 
on the ground ; the woman striking out with feet and fists, bare- 
lieaded, bowling, minus hair and teeth, livid with wrath, hor- 

Suddenly a man of lofty stature emerged vivaciously from the 
crowd, seized the woman by her satin bodice, which was cov- 
ered with mud, and said to her, *' Follow me ! *' 

The woman raised her head ; her furious voice suddenly died 
away. Her eyes were glassy ; she turned pale instead of livid, 
and she trembled with a quiver of terror. She had recognized 

The dandy took advantage of the incident to make his es- 

XIII. — The SoLimoN op Some Questions connected with 
THE Municipal Police. 

Javert thrust aside the spectators, broke the circle, and set 
cot with long strides towai-ds the police station, which is situated 
at the extremity of the square, dragging the wretched woman 
after him. She yielded mechanically. Neither he nor she ut- 
tered a word. The cloud of spectators followed, jesting, in a 
paroxysm of delight. Supreme misery an occasion for ob- 

On arriving at the police station, which was a low room, 
warmed by a stove, with a glazed and grated door opening on 
the street, and guarded by a detachment, Javert opened the 
door, entered with Fantine, and shut the door behind him, to 
the great disappointment of the curious, who raised themselves 
on tiptoe, and craned their necks in front of the thick glass of 
the station-house, in their effort to see. Curiosity is a sort of 
gluttony. ÏO see is to devour. 

On entering, Fantine fell down in a corner, motionless and 
mute, crouching down like a terrified dog. 

The sergeant of the guard brought a lighted candle to the 
table. Javert seated himself, drew a sheet of stamped paper 
from his pocket, and began to write. 

This class of women is consigned by our laws entirely to the 
discretion of the police. The latter do what they please, punish 
them, as seems good to them, and confiscate at their will those 
two sorry things which they entitle their industry and their 
liberty. Javeit was impassive; his grave face betrayed no 
emotion wbat«:ver. Nevertheless, he was seriously and deeply 


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preoccupied. It was one of those moments when he was exe? 
cisiiig without control, but subject to all the scruples of a severe 
conscience, his redoubtable discretionary power. At that mo- 
ment he was conscious that his i>oIice agent's stool was a tri- 
bunal. He was entering judgment. He judged and condemned. 
He summoned all the ideas which could possibly exist in his 
mind, around the great thing which he was doing. The more 
he examined the deed of this woman, the more shocked he felt. 
It was evident that he had just witnessed the commission of 
a crime. He had just beheld, yonder, in the street, society, in 
the person of a freeholder and an elector, insulted and attacked 
by a creature who was outside all pales. A prostitute had 
made an attempt on the life of a citizen. He had seen that, he, 
Javert. He wrote in silence. 

When he had finished lie signed the paper, folded it, and said 
to the sergeant, of the guard, as he handed it to him, ** Take 
three men and conduct this creature to jail." 

Then, turning to Fan tine, '' You are to have six months of 
it." The unhappy woman shuddered. 

'' Six months ! six months of prison ! '* she exclaimed. "Six 
months in which to earn seven sous a day ! But what will be- 
come of Cosctte? My daughter! my daughter! But I still 
owe the Thénardiers over a hundred francs ; do yon know that, 
Monsieur Inspector?" 

She dragged herself across the damp floor, among the muddy 
boots of all those men, without rising, with clasped hands, and 
taking great strides on her knees. 

" Monsieur Javert," said she, " I beseech your mere}'. } 
assure you that I was not in the wrong. If you had seen th* 
beginning, you would have seen. I swear to you by the good 
God that I was not to blame ! That gentleman, the bourgeois, 
whom I do not know, put snow in my back. Has any one the 
right to put snow down our backs when we are walking along 
peaceably, and doing no harm to any one? I am rather ill, as 
you see. And then, he had been saying impertinent things to 
m'î for a long time : ' You are ugly ! you have no teeth ! * J 
know well that I have no longer those teeth. I did nothing ; 
I said to myself, ' The gentleman is amusing himself.' I was 
honest with him ; I did not speak to him. It was at that 
moment that he put the snow down my back. Monsieur Javert, 
good Monsieur Inspector ! is there not some person here who saw 
it and can tell you that this is quite true ? Perhaps I did wrong 
to get angry. You know that one is not master of one's self at 
the first moment. One sives way to vivacity; and then, when 


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FA NT I NE. 183 

pome one puts something cold down your back Just when yon 
are not expecting it! I did wrong to spoil that gentleman's 
hat. Why did he go away? I would ask his pardon. Oh, my 
God! It makes no difference to me whether I ask his pardon. 
Do me the favor to-day, for this once, Monsieur Javert. Hold ! 
joa do not know that in prison one can earn only seven sous a 
day ; it is not the government's fault, but seven sous is one's 
earnings ; and just fancy, I must pay one hundred francs, or my 
little girl will be sent to me. Oh, my God ! I cannot have her 
with me. What I do is so vile ! Oh, my Cosette ! Oh, my 
little angel of the Holy Virgin ! what will become of her, poor 
creature? I will tell you: it is the Thénardiers, inn-keepers, 
peasants ; and such people are unreasonable. They want money. 
Don't put me in prison I You see, there is a little girl who will 
he turned out into the street, to get along as best she may, in 
the very heart of the winter ; and you must have pity on such 
a being, my good Monsieur Javert. If she were older, she 
might earn her living ; but it cannot be done at that age. I am 
not a bad woman at bottom. It is not cowardliness and glut- 
tony that have made me what I am. If I have drunk brandy, 
it was out of misery. I do not not love it ; but it benumbs the 
senses. When I was happy, it was only necessary to glance 
into my closets, and it would have been evident that I was not 
a coquettish and untidy woman. I had linen, a great deal of 
linen. Have pity on me, Monsieur Javert ! " 

She spoke thus, rent in twain, shaken with sobs, blinded with 
tears, her neck bare, wringing her hands, and coughing with a 
dry, short cough, stammering softly with a voice of agony. 
Great sorrow is a divine and terrible ray, which transfigures the 
nnhappy. At that moment Fantine had become beautiful once 
more. From time to time she paused, and tenderly kissed tlie 
police agent's coat. She would have softened a heart of gran- 
ite ; but a heart of wood cannot be softened. 

" Come ! " said Javert, " I have heard you out. Have you 
entirely finished ? You will get six months. Now march ! The 
Eternal Father in person could do nothing more." 

At these solemn words, ^''the Eternal Father in person could 
do nothing mare," she understood that her fate was sealed. 
She sank down, murmuring, " Mercy I " 

Javert turned his back. 

The soldiers seized her by the arms. 

A few moments earlier a man had entered, but no one had 
paid any heed to him. He shut the door, leaned his bacb 
•gainst it, and listened to Fantinc's despairing supplications 


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At the instant when the soldiers laid their hands upon the on 
fortunate woman, who would not rise, he emerged from tbe 
shadow, and said : — - 

*' One moment, if you please/ 

Javert raised his eyes and recognized M. Madeleine. He re- 
moved his hat, and, saluting him with a sort of aggrieveâ awk* 
wardness : — 

" Excuse me, Mr. Mayor — " 

The words "Mr. Mayor" produced a curious effect npon 
Fantine. She rose to her feet with one bound, like a spectre 
springing from the earth, thrust aside the soldiers with both 
arms, walked straight up to M. Madeleine before any one could 
prevent her, and gazing intently at him, with a bewildered air, 
she cried : — 

*' Ah ! so it is you who are M. le Maire ! ** 

Then she burst into a laugh, and spit in his face. 

M. Madeleine wiped his face, and said : — 

" Inspector Javert, set this woman at liberty •** 

Javert felt that he was on tlie verge of going mad. He ex- 
perienced at that moment, blow upon blow and almost simulta- 
neously, the most violent emotions which he had ever undergone 
in all his life. To see a woman of the town spit in the mayor's 
face was a thing so monstrous that, in his most daring flights 
of fancy, he would have regarded it as a sacrilege to believe it 
possible. On the other hand, at the ver}' bottom of his thought, 
he made a hideous comparison as to what this woman was, and 
as to what this mayor might be ; and then he, with horror, 
caught a glimpse of I know not what simple explanation of 
this prodigious attack. But when he beheld that mayor, that 
magistrate, calmly wipe his face and say, " Set this woman ai 
liberty" he underwent a sort of intoxication of amazement; 
thought and word failed him equally ; the sum total of possible 
astouisliinciit had been exceeded in his case. He remained 

The words had produced no less strange an effect on Fantine. 
She raised her bare arm, and clung to the damper of the stove. 
like a person who is reeling. Nevertheless, she glanced about 
her, and began to speak in a low voice, as though talking to 
herself : — 

" At liberty 1 I am to be allowed to go ! I am not to go to 
prison for six months ! Who said that? It is not possible that 
any one could have said that. I did not hear aright. It can- 
not have been that monster of a mayor ! Was it you, my good 
Monsieur Javert, who said that I was to be set free? Oh, see 


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here ! I will tell you about it, and you will let me go. That 
monster of a mayor, tliat old blackguard of a mayor, is the 
cause of all. Just imagine. Monsieur Javert, he turned mc out 1 
all because of a pack of rascally women, who gossip in the work- 
room. If that is not a horror, what is? To dismiss a poor 
girl who is doing her work honestly I Then I could no longer 
earn enough, and all this misery followed. In the first place, 
there is one improvement which these gentlemen of the police 
ought to make, and that is, to prevent prison contractors from 
wroDging poor people. I will exi>lain it to you, you see : you 
are earning twelve sous at shirt-making, the price falls to nine 
sous ; and it is not enough to live on. Then one has to become 
whatever one can. As for me, I had my little Cosette, and I 
was actually forced to become a bad woman. Now you under- 
stand how it is that that blackguard of a. mayor caused all the 
mischief. After that I stamped on that gentleman's hat in front 
of the officers* café ; but he had spoiled m}- whole dress with 
snow. We women have but one silk dress for evening wear. 
You see that I did not do wrong delibenitely — traly, Monsieur 
Javert; and everywhere I behold women who are far more 
wicked than I, and who are much happier, O Monsieur Javert I 
it was you who gave orders that I am to be set free, was it not? 
Make inquiries, speak to my landlord ; I am paying my rent 
now ; they will tell you that I am perfectly honest. Ah ! my 
God ! I beg your pardon ; I have unintentionally touched the 
damper of the stove, and it has made it smoke." 

M. Madeleine listened to her with profound attention. While 
she was speaking, he fumbled in his waistcoat, drew out his 
purse and opened it. It was empty. He put it back in his 
pocket. He said to Fantine, ^^ How much did you say that 
you owed?" 

Fantine, who was looking at Jatert only, turned towards 
Wm: — 

" Was I speaking to you P" 

Then, addressing the soldiers : — 

" Say, you fellows, did you see how I spit in his face ? Ah ! 
f-^u old wretch of a mayor, you came here to frighten me, but 
I'm not afraid of you. I am afraid of Monsieur Javert. I am 
afraid of my good Monsieur Javert ! " 

So saying, she turned to the inspector again : — 

"And yet, you see, Mr. Inspector, it is necessary to be just. 
I understand that you are just, Mr, Inspector ; in fact, it is 
perfectly simple : a man amuses himself by putting snow down 
% woman's back, and that makes the officers laugh ; one mus< 


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divert themselves in some way; and we — well, we are hen 
for them to amuse themselves with, of course ! And then, 
you, you come ; 30U are certainly obliged to preserve oi-der, you 
lead off the woman who is in the wrr g ; but on reflection, 
since you are a good man, you say tuc.t I am to be set at lib- 
erty ; it is for the sake of the little one, for six months in prison 
would prevent my supporting my child. ' Only, don*t do it 
again, you hussy ! * Oh ! I won't do it again. Monsieur Javert 1 
They may do whatever they please to me now ; I will not stir. 
But to-day, you see, I cried because it hurt me. I was not ex- 
pecting that snow from the gentleman at all ; and then, as I 
told you, I am not well ; I have a cough ; I seem to have a 
Dnrning ball in my stomach, and the doctor tells me, ^Take 
care of yourself.' Here, feel, give me your hand ; don't be 
afraid — it is here." 

She no longer wept, her voice was caressing; she placed 
Javert's coarse hand on her delicate, white throat and looked 
smilingly at him. 

Alt at once she rapidly adjusted her disordered garments, 
dropped the folds of her skirt, which had been pushed up as she 
dragged herself along, almost to the height of her knee, and 
8tei)ped towards the door, saying to the soldiers in a low voice, 
and with a friendly nod : — 

'^ Children, Monsieur l'Inspecteur has said that I am to 1> 
released, and I am going." 

She laid her hand on the latch of the door. One step more 
and she would be in the street. 

Javert up to that moment had remained erect, motionless, 
with his eyes fixed on the ground, cast athwart this scene like 
some displaced statue, which is waiting to be put away some- 

The sound of the latch roused him. He raised his head with 
an expression of sovereign authority, an expression all the 
more alarming in proportion as the authority rests on a low 
level, ferocious in the wild beast, atrocious in the man of no 

''Sergeant!" he cried, "don't you see that that jade is 
walking off! Who bade you let her go? " 

'' I," said Madeleine. 

Fantine trembled at the sound of Javert's voice, and let go 
of the latch as a thief relinquishes the article which he has 
stolen. At the sound of Madeleine's voice she turned around, 
and from that moment forth she uttered no word, nor dared so 
Qiuch as to breathe freely, but her glance strayed from Made- 


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FANTlNE. 18f 

ieine to Javert, and from Javert to Madeleine in turn, accord 
iDg to which was speaking. 

It was evident that Javert must have been exasperated be- 
yond measure before he would permit himself to apostrophize 
the sei-geant as he had done, after the mayor's suggestion that 
Fantine should be set at liberty. Had he reached the point of 
forgetting the mayor's presence? Had he finally declared to 
himself that it was impossible that any ^' authority " should 
have given such an order, and that the mayor must certainly 
have said one thing by mistake for another, without intending 
it? Or, in view of the enormities of which he had been a wit- 
ness for the past two hours, did he say to himself, that it was 
necessary to recur to supreme resolutions, that it was indis- 
pensable that the small should be made great, that the police 
Bpy should transform himself into a magistrate, that the police- 
man should become a dispenser of justice, and that, in this 
prodigious extremity, order, law, morality, government, society 
in its entirety-, was personified in him, Javert? 

However that may be, when M. Madeleine uttered that word, 
/, as we have just heard. Police Inspector Javert was seen to 
turn toward the mayor, pale, cold, with blue lips, and a look 
of despair, his whole body agitated by an imperceptible quivtr 
and an unprecedented occurrence, and say to him, with down- 
east eyes but a firm voice : — 

*'Mr. Mayor, that cannot be." 

" Why not ? " said M. Madeleine. 

^^ This miserable woman has insulted a citizen.** 

" Inspector Javert," replied the mayor, in a calm and con- 
ciliating tone, ^' listen. You are an honest man, and I feel no 
hesitation in explaining matters to you. Here is the true state 
of the case : I was passing through the square just as you were 
leading this woman away ; there were still groups of people 
standing about, and I made inquiries, and learned everything,^ 
it was the townsman who was in the wrong and who should 
have been arrested by properly conducted police." 

Javert retorted : — 

' This wretch has just insulted Monsieur le Maire.*' 

"That concerns me," said M. Madeleine. "My own insult 
Wongs to me, I think. I can do what I please about it." 

"I beg Monsieur le Maire's pardon. The insult is not to 
him, but to the law." 

/* Inspector Javert," replied M. Madeleine, " the highest law 
» conscience. I have heard this woman ; I know what I am 


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♦•And I, Mr. Mayor, do not know what I see.'* 

*♦ Then content yourself with obeying." 

•' I am obeying *my duty. My duty demands that this wo^ 
man shall serve six months in prison.** 

•* M. Madeleine replied gently : — 

** Heed this well ; she will not serve a single day*'* 

At this decisive word, Javert ventured to fix a searching look 
on the mayor and to say, but in a tone of voice that was still 
profoundly respectful : — 

^^ 1 am sorr}' to oppose Monsieur le Maire ; it is for the first 
time in my life, but he will permit me to remark that I am 
witliin the bounds of my authorit3\ I confine myself, since 
Monsieur le Maire desires ft, to the question of the gentleman. 
I was present This woman flung herself on Monsieur Bama- 
tabois, who is an elector and the proprietor of that handsome 
house with a balcony, which forms the corner of the esplanade, 
three stories high and entirely of cut stone. Such things as 
there are in the world 1 In any case, Mousieur le Maire, this is 
a question of police regulations in the streets, and concerna 
me, and I shall detain this woman Fan tine." 

Then M. Madeleine folded his arms, and said in a severe 
voice which no one in the town had heard hitherto: — 

'*The matter to which you refer is one connected with the mu- 
nicipal police. According to the terms of articles nine, eleven, 
fifteen, and sixty-six of the code of criminal examination, I am 
the judge. I order that this woman shall be set at liberty." 

Javert ventured to make a final effort. 

**But, Mr. Mayor — " 

^^ I refer you to article eighty-one of the law of the 13th of 
December, 1799, in regard to arbitrarv detention.^ 

'* Monsieur le Maire, permit me — 

" Not another word." 

"But — " 

*' Leave the room," said M. Madeleine. 

Javert received the blow erect, full in the face, in his breast, 
like a Russian soldier. He bowed to the very earth before the 
mayor and left the room. 

Fantine stood aside from the door and stared at him in 
amazement as he passed. 

Nevertheless, she also was the prey to a strange confusion. 
She had just seen herself a subject of dispute between two 
opposing powers. She had seen two men who held in theii 
hands her liberty, her life, hersouU her child, in combat befoYe 
ber very eyes ; one of these men was drawing her towards darb 


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Dess, the other was leading her back towards the light. In this 
(X)nflict, viewed through the exaggerations of terror, these two 
tûcn had appeared to her like two giants ; the one spoke like 
ber demon, the other like her good angel. The angel had con< 
quered the demon, and, strange to saj', that which made her 
shudder from head to foot was the fact that this angel, this 
Hherator, was the very man whom she abhorred, that mayor 
whom she had so long regarded as the author of all her woes, 
that Madeleine ! And at the very moment when she had insult- 
ed him in so hideous a fashion, he had saved her I Had she, 
then, been mistaken ? Must she change her whole soul ? She 
did not know ; she trembled. She listened in bewilderment, she 
looked on in affright, and at every word uttered by M. Made- 
leine she felt the frightful shades of hatred crumble and melt 
within her, and something warm and ineffable, indescribable, 
which was both joy, confidence, and love, dawn in her heart. 

When Javert had taken his departure, M. Madeleine turned 
1o her and said to her in a deliberate voice, like a serious man 
who does not wish to weep and who finds some difficulty in 
tpeaking : — 

*' I have heard you. I knew nothing about what you have 
loentioned. I believe that it is true, and I feel that it is true. 
I was even ignorant of the fact that you had left my shop. 
Why did you not apply to me? But here; I will pay your 
Hebts, I will send for your child, or you shall go to her. You 
i.hall live here, in Paris, or where you please. I undertake the 
<!are of your child and yourself. You shall not work any longer 
if you do not like. I will give all the money you require. You 
shall be honest and happy once more. And listen ! I declare 
to you that if all is as 3'ou say, — and I do not doubt it, — you 
have never ceased to be vli-tuous and holy in the sight of God. 
Oh ! poor woman." 

This was more than Fantine could bear. To have Cosette ! 
To leave this life of infamy. To live free, rich, happy, respect- 
ive with Cosette ; to see all these realities of paradise blossom 
)f a sudden in the midst of her misery. She stared stupidly at 
«his man who was talking to her, and could only give vent to 
two or three sobs, *' Oh ! Oh ! Oh ! " 

Her limbs gave way beneath her, she knelt in front of M. 
Madeleine, and before he could prevent her he felt her grasp 
^is hand and press her lips to it* 

Then she fainted* 


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L — The Beginiïing of Reposb. 

M. Madeleine had Fantine removed to that inflrmai-j whic* 
be had established iu his own house. He confided her to the 
Bisters, who put her to bed. A burning fever had come on 
She passed a part of the night in delirium and raving. At 
length, however, slie fell asleep. 

On the morrow, towards midday, Fantine awoke. She beard 
Bonie one breatliiug close to her bed ; she drew aside the curtain 
and saw M. Madeleine standing there and looking at something 
over her head. His gaze was full of pity, anguish, and supplica- 
tion. She followed its direction, and saw tliat it was fixed on a 
crucifix which was nailed to the wall. 

Thenceforth, M. Madeleine was transfigured in Fan tine's eyes. 
He seemed to her to be clothed in light. He was absorbed in a 
sort of prayer. S lie gazed at him for a long time without daring 
to interrupt him. At last she said timidly : — 

" What are 30U doing?" 

M. Madeleine had been there for an hour. He had been 
waiting for Fantine to awake. He took her hand, felt of her 
pulse, and replied : — 

'' How do you feel?** 

" Well, I have slept," she replied ; "I think that I am better. 
It is nothing." 

He answered, responding to the first question which she had 
put to him as though he had but just heard it : — 

*' I was praying to the martyr there on high." 

And he added in his own mind, *' For the martyr here below." 

M. Madeleine had passed the night and the morning in mak- 
ing inquiries. He knew all now. He knew Fantine's history 
in all its heart-rending details. He went on : — 

*' You have suffered much, poor mother. Oh ! do not complain ; 
you now have the dowry of the elect. It is thus that men are 
transformed into angels. It is not their fault the}' do not know 
how to go to work otherwise. You see, this hell from which 
you have just emerged is the first form of heaven. It was nec- 
essary to begin there." 


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He sighed deeply. But she smiled on him with that sublime 
anile in which two teeth were lacking. 

That same night, Javert wrote a letter. The next morning 
he posted it himself at the office of M. sur M. It was ad- 
dressed to Paris, and the superscription ran : To Monsieur 
Ch'jbomUety Secretary of Monsieur le Préfet of Police, As thp 
affair in the station-house had been bruited about, the post- 
mistress and some other persons who saw the letter before it 
was sent off, and who recognized Javcrt's handwriting on the 
cïover, thought that he was sending in his resignation. 

M. Madeleine made haste to write to the Thénardiers. Fan- 
tme owed them one hundred and twenty francs. He sent them 
three hundred francs, telling them to pay themselves from that 
sum, and to fetch the child instantly to M. sur M., where her 
sick mother required her presence. 

This dazzled Thénardier. *' The devil ! *' said the man to his 
wife; "don't let's allow the child to go. This lark is going 
to tnm into a milch cow. I see through it. Some ninny has 
taken a fancy to the mother." 

He replied with a very well drawn-up bill for five hundred 
and some odd francs. In this memorandum two indisputable 
items figured up over three hundred francs, — one for the doctor, 
tlie other for the apothecary who had attended and physicked 
Eponine and Azelma through two long illnesses. Cosette, as we 
have already said, had not been ill. It was only a question of a 
trifling substitution of names. At the foot of the memorandum, 
Thénardier wrote, Received on account ^ three hundred francs, 

M. Madeleine immediately sent three hundred francs more, 
and wrote, '* Make haste to bring Cosette." 

" Christ! ! " said Thénardier, '' let's not give up tlie child." 

In the meantime, Fantine did not recover. She still remained 
in the infirmary. 

The sisters had at first only received and nursed •' that 
woman " with repugnance. Those who have seen the bas-reliefs 
of Rhcims will recall the inflation of the lower lip of the wise vir- 
gins as they survey the foolish virgins. The ancient scorn of the 
vestals for the ambubajœ is one of the most profound instincts 
of feminine dignity ; the sisters felt it with the double force 
contributed by religion. But in a few days Fantine disarmed 
them. She said all kinds of humble and gentle things, and the 
mother in her provoked tenderness. One day the sisters heard 
her say amid her fever: " I have been a sinner; but when I 
have my child beside me, it will be a sign that God has pardoned 
ine. While I was leading a bad life, I should not have liked to 


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have my Cosette with me ; I could Dot have borne her sad, aston- 
ished eyes. It was for her sake that I did evil, and that is why 
God pardons me. I siiall feel the benediction of the good God 
when Cosette is here. I shall gaze at her ; it will do me good 
to see that innocent creature. She knows nothing at all. She 
is an angel, you see, my sisters. At that age the wings have not 
fallen off." 

M. Madeleine went to see her twice a day, and each time she 
asked him : — 

'' Shall I see my Cosette soon?" 

He answered : — 

^^ To-morrow, perhaps. She may arrive at any moment. 1 
am expecting her." 

And the mother's pale face grew radiant. 

" Oh ! " she said, " how happy I am going to be ! '* 

We have just said that she did not recover her health. Ol, 
the contrary, her condition seemed to become more grave from. 
week to week. That handful of snow applied to her bare skir 
between her shoulder-blades had brought a})out a sudden sup- 
pression of perspiration, as a consequence of which the malady 
which had been smouldering within her for inany years was vio- 
lently developed at last. At that time people were beginning 
to follow the fme Laennec's fine suggestions in the study and 
treatment of chest maladies. The doctor sounded Fautine'fi 
chest and shook his head. 

M. Madeleine said to the doctor : — 


^^Has she not a child which she deshres to see?** said tbo 

*' Yes." 

'' Well ! Make haste and get it here.** 

M. Madeleine shuddered. 

Fantine inquired : — 

'' What did the doctor say?" 

M. Madeleine forced himself to smile. 

^^ He said that your child was to be brought speedily. Tha^ 
that would restore your health." 

" Oh ! " she rejoined, " he is right ! But what do those Thé- 
nardiers mean by keeping my Cosette from me ! Oh ! she \9 
coming. At last I behold happiness close beside me ! " 

In the meantime, Thénardier did not ''let go of the child," 
and gave a hundred insufficient reasons for it. Cosette was nol 
quite well enough to take a Jouniey in the winter. And then, 
there still remained some petty but pressing debts in the neigh 
borhood, and they were collecting the bilL» for them, etc., etc 


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*^ I shall send some one to fetch Cosette I " said Father Mad- 
rleine. ** If necessary, I will go myself." 

He wrote the following letter to Fantine's dictationi and 
made her sign it: — 

^ MOMSUSUK Thénasdier : — 

Tou will deliver Cosette to this person. 
You will be paid for all the little things. 
I have the honor to salute you with respect. 


In the meantime a serious incident occurred. Cai-ve as we. 
^ill the mysterioua block of which our life is made, the black 
«'ein of destiny constantly reappears in it» 

n. — How Jean mat become Champ. 

One morning M. Madeleine was in his study, occupied in 
arranging in advance some pressing matters connected with the 
.nayor's office, in case he should decide to take the trip to Mont- 
fenneil, when he was informed that Police Inspector Javert waa 
desirous of speaking with him. Madeleine could not refrain 
from a disagreeable impression on bearing this name. Javert 
had avoided him more than ever since the affair of the police- 
station, and M. Madeleine had not seen him. 

" Admit him," he said. 

Javert entered. 

M. Madeleine had retained his seat near the fire, pen in hand, 
his eyes fixed on the docket which he was turning over and 
annotating, and which contained the trials of the commission on 
highways for the infraction of police regulations. He did not 
disturb himself on Javert's account. He could not help think- 
ing of poor Fantine, and it suited him to be glacial in his 

Javert bestowed a respectful salute on the mayor, whose 
back was turned to him. The mayor did not look at him, but 
7eQt on annotating this docket. 

Javert advanced two or three paces into the study, and halted, 
without breaking the silence. 

If any physiognomist who had been familiar with Javert, and 
who had made a lengthy study of this savage in the sei-vice of 
civilization, this singular composite of the Roman, the Spartan, 
èhe monk, and the corporal, this spy who was incapable of a lie, 
this unspotted police agent — if any physiognomist had known his 
i^cret and long-cherished aversion for M. Madeleine, his con- 


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flict with the mayor on the subject of Fan tine, and had exam 
ined Jiivert at that moment, he would have said to himself 
'* What has taken place?" It was evident to any one ac 
quainted witli that clear, upright, sincere, honest, austere, and 
ferocious conscience, that Javert had but just gone through 
some great interior struggle. Javert had nothing in his soul 
whicii he had not also in his countenance. Like violent people 
in general, he was subject to abrupt changes of opinion. His 
physiognomy' had never been more peculiar and startling. On 
entering he bowed to M. Madeleine with a look in which there 
was neither rancor, anger, nor distrust ; he halted a few paces in 
the rear of the mayor's arm-chair, and there Tie stood, perfectly 
erect, in an attitude almost of discipline, with the cold, ingenu- 
ous roughness of a man who has never been gentle and who has 
always been patient ; he waited without uttering a word, with- 
out making a movement, in genuine humility and tranquil 
resignation, calm, serious, hat in hand, with eyes cast down, 
and :m expression which was half-way between that of a soldier 
in the presence of his officer and a criminal in the presence of 
his judge, until it siiould please the mayor to turn round. All 
the sentiments as well as all the memories which one might 
have attributed to him had disappeared. That face, as impen* 
etrable and simple as granite, no longer bore any trace of any- 
thing but a melancholy depression. His whole person breathed 
lowliness and firmness and an indescribable courageous de- 

At last the mayor laid down his pen and turned half round. 

Well ! What is it? what is the matter, Javert? " 

Javert remained silent for an instant as though collecting his 
ideas, then raised his voice with a sort of sad solemnity, which 
did not, however, preclude simplicity. 

*^This is the matter, Mr. Mayor; a culpable act has beep 

''What act?" 

''An inferior agent of the authorities has failed in respect, 
and in the gravest manner, towards a magistrate. I have come 
to bring the fact to your knowledge, as it is my duty to do." 

" Who is the agent? " asked M. Madeleine. 

" I," said Javert. 


"And who is the magistrate who has reason to oomplaip ol 

the agent?" 

*' You, Mr. Mayor." 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


M. Madeleine sat erect in his arm-chair* Javert went on^ 
Mrith a severe air and his eyes still cast down. 

'^Mr. Mayor, I have come to request you to instigate tha 
authorities to dismiss me." 

M. Madeleine opened his mouth in amazement. Javert in- 
terrupted him : — 

^^ You will say that I might have handed in my resignation* 
but that does not suffice. Handing in one's resignation is hon» 
orable. I have failed in my duty ; I ought to be punished ; J 
must be turned out." 

And after a pause he added : •— 

" Mr. Mayor, you were severe with me the other day, and 
unjustly. Be so to-day, with justice." 

"Come, now! Why ?" exclaimed M. Madeleine. "What 
nonsense is this? What is the meaning of this? What culpa- 
ble act have you been guilty of towards me ? What have you 
done to me? What are your wrongs with regard to me? Yon 
accuse yourself ; you wish to be superseded — " 

" Turned out," said Javert. 

" Turned out ; so it be, then. That is well. 1 do not under* 

'* You shall understand, Mr. Mayor." 

Javert sighed from the very bottom of his chest, and resumed, 
still coldly and sadly : — 

''Mr. Mayor, six weeks ago, in consequence of the scene 
over that woman, I was furious, and I informed against you." 

" Informed against me ! " 

"At the Prefecture of Police in Paris." 

M. Madeleine, who wa^ not in the habit of laughing much 
oftcner than Javert himself, burst out laughing now : — 

"As a mayor who had encroached on the province of tha 

"As an ex-convict.** 

The mayor turned livid. 

Javert, who had not raised his eyes, went on : — - 

" I thought it was so. I had had an idea for a longtime; 
1 resemblance ; inquiries which you had caused to be made at 
Faverolles ; the strength of your loins ; the adventure with old 
F'aachelevant ; your skill in markmanship ; your leg, which you 
irag a little ; — I hardly know what all, — absurdities I But, at 
ill events, I took you for a certain Jean Val jean.!* 

"A certain — What did you say the name was?" 

"Jean Valjean. He was a convict whom I was in the habit 
of seeing twenty years ago, when I was adjutant-guard of con* 


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victfl at Toulon. On leaving the galleys, this Jean YalJeAO, sj 
't appears, robbed a bishop ; then he committed another theft, 
accompanied with violence, on a public highwa}' on the person 
of a little Savo3ard. He disappeared eight years ago, no one 
knows how, and ho has been sought, I fancied. In short, I 
did tins thing ! Wrath impelled me ; I denounced jou at the 
Prefecture ! " 

M. Madeleine, who had taken up the docket again severa 
moments before this, resumed with an air of perfect iodifrer- 
ence : — 

"And what reply did you receive?** 

** That I was mad." 


** Well, they were right,'* 

" It is lucky that you recognize the fact.** 

" I am forced to do so, since the real Jean Val jean has beet 

The sheet of paper which M. Madeleine was holding droppeil 
from his hand ; he raised his head, gazed fixedly at Javert, au'l 
said with his indescribable accent : — 


Javert continued : — 

'* This is the way it is, Mr, Mayor. It seems that there wa* 
in the neighborhood near Ailly-le-Haut-Clocher an old fellow 
who was called Father Champmathieu. He was a very wretchci 
creature. No one paid any attention to him. No one knowii 
what such people subsist on. Lately, last autumn. Father 
Ciiampmatliieu was arrested for tlie theft of some cider applet 
from — Well, no matter, a theft had been committed, a wall 
scaled, branches of trees broken. My Champmathieu was ar- 
rested. He still had the branch of apple-tree in his hand. 
The scamp is locked up. Up to this point it was merely an 
affair of a misdemeanor. But here is where Providence inter- 

"The jail being in a bad condition, the examining magistrate 
finds it con\enient to transfer Champmathieu to Arras, where 
the departmental prison is situated. In this prison at Arras 
there is an ex-convict named Brevet, who is detained for I know 
not what, and who has been appointed turnkey of the house, 
because of good behavior. Mr. Mayor, no soonei had Champ 
raathieu arrived than Brevet exclaims : 'Eh ! Why, I know 
that man ! He is sl fagot !^ Take a good look at me, my good 

1 As ez-convlat. 


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man! You are Jean Valjean!' 'Jean Valjean! who's Jeau 
Valjean ?' Champmathieu feigns astonishment. ' Don't play the 
innocent dodge,* says Brevet. * You are Jean Valjean ! You 
iiave been in the galleys of Toulon ; it was twenty years ago ; 
we were there together.' Champmathieu denies it. Parbleu ! 
You understand. The case is investigated. The thing was well 
ventilated for me. This is what they discovered : This Champ- 
mathieu had been, thirty years ago, a pruner of trees in various 
localities, notably at Faverolles. There all trace of him was 
lost. A long time afterwards he was seen again in Auvergne ; 
then in Paris, where he is said to have been a wheelwright, and 
to have had a daughter, who was a laundress ; but that has not 
been proved. Now, before going to the galleys for theft, what 
was Jean Valjean ? A pruner of trees. Where? At Faverolles. 
Another fact. This Valjean's Christian name was Jean, and his 
mother's surname was Mathieu. What more natural to suppose 
than that, on emerging from the galleys, he should have taken 
his mother's name for the purpose of concealing himself, and 
have called himself Jean Mathieu ? He goes to Auvergne. The 
local pronunciation turns Jean into Ckan — he is called Chan 
Mathieu. Our man offers no opposition, and behold him trans- 
formed into Champmathieu. You follow me, do you not? In- 
quiries were made at Faverolles. The family of Jean Valjean 
is no longer there. It is npt known where they have gone. 
You know that among those classes a family often disappears. 
Search was made, and nothing was found. When such people 
are not mud, they are dust. And then, as the beginning of the 
story dates thirty years back, there is no longer any one at 
Faverolles who knew Jean Valjean. Inquiries were made at 
Toulon. Besides Brevet, there are only two convicts in exist- 
ence who have seen Jean Valjean ; they are Cochepaille and 
Cheoildien, and are sentenced for life. They are taken from 
the galleys and confronted with the pretended Champmathieu» 
They do not hesitate ; he is Jean Valjean for them as well as for 
Brevet. The same age, — he is fifty-four, — the same height, 
the same air, the same man ; in short, it is he. It was pre- 
cisely at this moment that I forwarded my denunciation to the 
Prefecture in Paris. I was told that I had lost my reason, 
and that Jean Valjean is at Arras, in the power of the authori- 
ties. You can imagine whether this surprised me, when I 
thought that I had that same Jean Valjean here. I write to 
the examining judge ; he sends for me ; Champmathieu is cou' 
ducted to me — " 
"Well?" interposed M. Madeleine. 


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Javert replied, his face incorruptible, and as melancholjr aa 
ever : — 

" Mr. Mayor, the truth is the truth. I am sorry j but that 
man is Jean Valjean. I recognized him also." 

M. Madeleine resumed ip a very low voice : — 

"You are sure?" 

Javert began to laugh, with that mournful laugh which oomea 
from profound conviction. 

''O! Sure!" 

He stood there thoughtfully for a moment, mechanically 
caking pinches of powdered wood for blotting ink from the 
wooden bowl which stood on the table, and he added : — 

" And even now that I have seen the real Jean Valjean, I do 
not see how I could have thought otherwise. I beg your par- 
don, Mr. Mayor." 

Javert, as he addressed these grave and supplicating words 
to the man, who six weeks before had humiliated him in the 
presence of the whole station-house, and bade him ''•leave the 
room," — Javert, that haughty man, was unconsciously full of 
simplicity and dignity, — M. Madeleine made no other reply to 
his prayer than the abrupt question : — 

' ' And what does this man say ? " 

"Ah! Indeed, Mr. Mayor, it's a bad business. If he is 
Jean Valjean, he has his previous conviction against him. To 
climb a wall, to break a branch, to purloin apples, is a mis- 
chievous trick in a child ; for a man it is a misdemeanor ; for a 
convict it is a crime. Robbing and housebreaking — it is all 
there. It is no longer a question of correctional police ; it is a 
matter for the Court of Assizes. It is no longer a matter of a 
few days in prison ; it is the galleys for life. And then, there 
is the affair with the little Savoyard, who will return, I hope. 
The deuce ! there is plenty to dispute in the matter, is there 
not? Yes, for any one but Jean Valjean. But Jean Valjean 
is a sly dog. That is the way I recognized him. Any other 
man would have felt that things were getting hot for him ; he 
would struggle, he would cry out — the kettle sings before the 
fire ; he would not be Jean Valjean, et cetera. But he has not 
the appearance of understanding ; he says, ' I am Champma- 
thieu, and I won't depart from that ! ' lie has an astonished 
air, he pretends to be stupid ; it is far better. Oh ! the rogue is 
clever! But it makes no difference. The proofs are there, 
lie has been recognized by four persons ; the old scamp will be 
condemned. The case has been taken to the Assizes at Arras. 
I shall go there to give my testimony. I have been summoned.'' 


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PANTINE. lî^9 

M. Madeleine had turned to his desk again, and taken up hia 
docket, and was turning over the leaves tninquillv, reading and 
writing by turns, like a busy man. He turned to Javert : — 

*'Tbat will do, Javert. In truth, all these details interest 
me but little. We are wasting our time, and we have pressing 
business on hand. Javert, you will betake yourself at once to 
tlie house of the woman Buseaupied, who sells lierl)8 at the cor- 
ner of the Rue Saint-Saulve. You will toll her that she must 
enter her complaint against carter Pierre Chesnelong. The 
man is a brute, who came near crushing this woman and hei 
child. He must be punished. You will then go to M. Char- 
eellay, Rue Montre-de-Champigny. He complained that there 
is a gutter on the adjoining house which discharges rain-water 
on his premises, and is undermining the foundations of his house. 
After that, you will verify the infractions of police regulations 
which have been reported to me in the Rue Guibourg, at Widow 
Doris's, and Rue du Garraud-Blanc, at Madame Renée le 
Bossé's, and you will prepare documents. But I am giving 
you a great deal of work. Are yon not to be absent? Did 
you not tell me that you were going to Arras on that matter in 
A week or ten days ? " 

'' Sooner than that, Mr. Mayor.'' 

*' On what day, then?" 

" Why, I thought that I had said to Monsieur le Maire that 
the case was to be tried to-morrow, and that I am to set out by 
diligence to-night." 

M. Madeleine made an imperceptible movement. 

*' And how long will the case last ? " 

*' One day, at the most. The judgment will be pronounce<' 
to-morrow evening at latest. But I shall not wait for the sen- 
tence, which is certain; I shall return here as soon as my 
deposition has been taken." 

"That is well," said M. Madeleine. 

And he dismissed Javert with a wave of the hand. 

Javert did not withdraw. 

"Excuse me, Mr. Mayor," said he. 

"What is it now?" demanded M. Madeleine. 

" Mr. Mayor, there is still something of which I must remind 

"What is it!" 

" That I must be dismissed." 

M. Madeleine rose. 

" Javert, yon are a man of honor, and I esteem you. Yon 
exaggerate your fault. Moreover, this is an offence which con 


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ceivis me. Javert, yoii deserve promotion instead of dégrada 
tion. I wish you to retain your post." 

Javert gazed at M. Madeleine with his candid ey\~':^^ ii» whose 
deptiis his not very enlightened but pure and rigid conscience 
seemed visible, and said in a tranquil voice : — 

'* Mr. Mayor, I cannot grant you that." 

" I repeat," replied M. Madeleine, '* that the matter concerns 

But Javert, heeding his own thought only, continued : — 

" So far as exaggeration is concerned, I am not exaggerating. 
This is the way I reason : I have suspected you unjustly. That 
is nothing. It is our right to cherish suspicion, although sus- 
picion directed above ourselves is an abuse. But without 
proofs, in a fit of rage, with the object of wreaking my ven- 
geance, I have denounced you as a convict, you, a respectable 
man, a ma^'or, a magistrate ! That is serious, very serious. I 
have insulted authority in your person, I, an agent of the au- 
thorities ! If one of my subordinates had done what I have 
done, I should have declared him unworthy of the service, and 
have expelled him. Well? Stop, Mr. Mayor; one word more. 
I have often been severe in the couree of my life towards others. 
That is just. I have done well. Now, if I were not severe 
towards myself, all the justice that I have done would become 
injustice. Ought I to spare myself more than others? No! 
What ! I should be good for nothing but to chastise others, and 
not myself ! Why, I should be a blackguard ! Those who say, 
' That blackguard of a Javert ! ' would be in the right. Mr. 
Mayor, I do not desire that you should treat me kindly ; your 
kindness roused sufUcient bad blood in me when it was directed 
to others. I want none of it for myself. The kindness which 
consists in upholding a woman of the town against a citizen, the 
police agent against the mayor, the man who is down against 
the man who is up in the world, is what I call false kindness. 
That is the sort of kindness which disorganizes society. Good 
God ! it is very easy to be kind ; the difficulty lies in being just. 
Come ! if you had been what I thought you, I should not have 
been kind to you, not I ! You would have seen ! Mr. Mayor, 
I must treat myself as I would treat any other man. When I 
^lave subdued malefactors, when I have proceeded with vigor 
against rascals, I have often said to myself, ' If you flinch^ if 
ever I catch you in fault, you may rest at your ease ! ' I have 
flinched, I have caught myself in a fault. So much the worse ! 
Come, discharged, cashiered, expelled ! That is well. I have 
arms. I will till the soil ; it makes no difference to me. Mr. 


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Diayor, the good of the seiTice demands an example. I simply 
require the discliarge of Inspector Javert." 

All this was uttered in a proud, humble, despairing, yet coi> 
vinced tone, which lent indescribable grandeur to this singular, 
honest man. 

'* We shall see," said M. Madeleine. 

And he offered him his hand. 

Javert recoiled, and said in a wild voice : — 

" Excuse me, Mr. Mayor, but this must not be. A mayor 
ioes not offer his hand to a police spy." 

He added between his teeth : — 

" A police spy, yes ; from the moment when I have misused 
the police, I am no more than a police spy." 

Then he bowed profoundly, and directed his steps towards 
the door. 

There be wheeled round, and with eyes still downcast : — 

" Mr. Mayor," he said, *'I shall continue to serve until I am 

He withdrew. M. Madeleine remained thougiitfull}- listening 
to the firm, sure step, which died away on the pavement of the 

I. — Sister Simplice. 

The incidents the reader is about to peruse were not all 
known at M. sur M. But the small portion of them which 
became known left such a memory in that town that a serious 
ga{) would exist in this book if we did not narrate tliera in their 
most minute details. Among, these details the reader will en- 
coQDter two or three improbable circumstances, which we pre- 
serve out of respect for the truth. 

On the afternoon following the visit of Javert, M. Madeleine 
went to see Fantine according to his wont. 

Before entering Fantine's room, he had Sister Simplice sum- 

The two nuns who performed the services of nurse in the 
infirmary. Lazariste ladies, like all sisters of charity, bore the 
names of Sister Perpétue and Sister Simplice. 

Sister Perpétue was an ordinary villager, a sister of charity 


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202 LES MISERABL}t!:^\ 

in a coarse style, who had entered the service of God as one 
enters any other service. Slie was a nnn as other women are 
cooks. This type is not so very rare. The monastic orders 
gladly accept this heavy peasant earthenware, which is easily 
fusliioned into a Capuchin or an Ureuline. These rustics are 
utilized for the rough work of devotion. The transition from 
a drover to a Carmelite is not in the least violent ; the one turns 
into the other without much effort; the fund of ignorance 
common . to the village and the cloister is a preparation ready 
at hand, and places the boor at once on the same footing as 
the monk : a little more amplitude in the smock, and it becomes 
a frock. Sister Perpétue was a robust nun from Marines near 
Pontoise, who chattered her patois, droned, grumbled, sugared 
the potion according to the bigotry or the hyjwcrisy of the 
invalid, treated her patients abruptly, roughly, was crabbed 
with the dying, almost flung God in their faces, stoned their 
death agony with prayers mumbled in a rage ; was bold, honest, 
and ruddy. 

Sister Simplice was white, with a waxen pallor. Beside Sis- 
ter Perpétue, she was the taper beside the candle. Vincent de 
Paul has divinely traced the features of the Sister of Charity in 
these admirable words, in which he mingles as much freedom 
as servitude : ' ' They shall have for their convent onl}' the 
house of the sick ; for cell only a hired room ; for chapel only 
their parish church ; for cloister only the streets of the town 
and the wards of the hospitals ; for enclosure only obedience ; 
for gratings only the fear of God ; for veil only modesty." This 
ideal was realized in the living person of Sister Simplice : she 
had never been young, and it seemed as though she would never 
grow old. No one could have told Sister Simplice's age. She 
was a person — we dare not say a woman — who was gentle, 
austere, well-bred, cold, and who had never lied. She was so 
gentle that she appeared fragile ; but she was more solid than 
granite. Slie touched the unhappy with fingers that were charm- 
ingly pure and fine. There was, so to speak, silence in her 
speech ; she said just what was necessary, and she possessed a 
tone of voice which would have equally edified a confessional or 
enchanted a drawing-room. This delicacy accommodated itself 
to the serge gown, finding in this harsh contact a continual 
reminder of heaven and of God. Let us emphasize one detail. 
Never to have lied, never to have said, for any interest what- 
ever, even in indifference, any single thing which was not the 
truth, the sacred truth, was Sister Simplice*s distinctive trait; 
it vfBS the accent of her virtue. She was almost renowned in 


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FA NT I NE. 203 

the congregation for this imperturbable veracity. The AblWs 
Sicard s[>cak8 of Sister Simplice in a letter to the deaf-mute 
Massieu. However pure and sincere we may be, we all bear 
upon our candor the crack of the little, innocent lie. She did 
not. Little lie, innocent lie — does such a thing exist? To lie 
is the absolute form of evil. To lie a little is not possible : 
be who lies, lies the whole lie. To lie is the very face of the 
iemon. Satan has two names ; lie is called Satan and Lying. 
That is what she thought; and as she thought, so she did. 
riie result was the whiteness wiiieh we have mentioned — a 
whiteness which covered even her lips and her eyes with radi- 
ance. Her smile was white, her glance was white. There was 
not a single spider's web, not a grain of dust, on the glass 
window of that conscience. On entering the order of Saint 
Vincent de Paul, she had taken the name of Simplice by special 
choice. Simplice of Sicily, as we know, is the saint who pre- 
ferred to allow both her breasts to be torn oflF rather than to 
say that she had been born at Segesta when she had been 
bom at Syracuse — a lie which would have saved her. This 
patron saint suited this soul. 

Sister Simplice, on her entrance into the order, had had two 
faults which she had gradually corrected : she had a taste for 
dainties, and she liked to receive letters. She never read any- 
thing but a book of prayers printed in Latin, in coarse type. 
She did not understand Lratin, but she understood the book. 

This pious w^oraan hdd conceived an affection for Fantine, 
probably feeling a latent virtue there, and she had devoted her- 
self almost exclusively to her care. 

M. Madeleine took Sister Simplice apart and recommended 
Fantine to her in a singular tone, which the sister recalled later on. 

On leaving the sister, he approached Fantine. 

Fantine awaited M. Madeleine's appearance every day as one 
awaits a ray of warmth and joy. She said to the sisters, '• 1 
only live when Monsieur le Maire is here." 

She had a great deal of fever that day. As soon as she saw 
^I. Madeleine she asked him : — 


He replied with a smile ; — 


M. Madeleine was the same as usaal with Fantine. Only he 
remained an hour instead of lialf an hour, to Fantine's great 
delight. He urged every one repeatedly not to allow the in- 
valid to want for anything. It was noticed that there was a 
moment when his countenance became very sombre. But this 


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was explained when it became known that the doctor had benl 
down to his ear and said to him, " She is losing ground fast.'* 
Then he returned to the town-hall, and tlie clerk obsei-^'ed 
him attentively examining a road map of France which hung in 
his study. lie wrote a few figures on a bit of paper with a 

n. — The Perspicaciit of Master Soaufflairk. 

From the town-hall he betook himself to the extremity of tJic 
town, to a Fleming named Master Scaufflaer, French Scaufflaire, 
who let out •* horses and cabriolets as desired." 

In order to reach this Scaufilaire, the shortest way was to tak^ 
the little-frequented street in which was situated the parson- 
age of the parish in which M. Madeleine resided. The curé 
was, it was said, a worthy, respectable, and sensible man. At 
the moment when M. Madeleine arrived in front of the parson* 
age there was but one passer-by in the street, and this person 
noticed this : After the mayor had passed the priest's house he 
halted, stood motionless, then turned about, and retraced his 
steps to the door of the parsonage, which had an iron knocker. 
He laid his hand quickly on the knocker and lifted it ; then he 
paused again and stopped short, as though in thought, and 
after the lapse of a few seconds, instead of allowing the knocker 
to fall abruptly, he replaced it gently, and resumed his way 
with a sort of haste which had not been apparent previously. 

M. Madeleine found Master Scaufflaire at home, engaged in 
stitching a harness over. 

"Master Scaufflaire," he inquired, '*have you a good horse?** 

" Mr. Mayor," said the Fleming, *' all my horses are good. 
Wliat do you mean by a good horse ? " 

"I mean a horse which can travel twenty leagues in a day.'* 

" The deuce ! " said the Fleming. '' Twenty leagues 1 " 

" Yes." 

" Hitched to a cabriolet? '* 

" Yes." 

*' And how long can he rest at the end of his journey? ** 

^^ He must be able to set out again on the next day if neoe» 

" To traverse the same road?" 


" The deuce ! the deuce ! And it is twenty leagues? ** 

M. Madeleine drew from his pocket the paper on which he 


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had pencilled some figures. He showed it to the Fleming. The 
figures were 5, 6, 8^. 

'* You see,*' he said, '* total, nineteen and a half ; as well say 
twenty leagues." 

"Mr. Mayor," returned the Fleming, "I have just what you 
want. My little white horse — you may have seen him pass 
occasionally ; he is a small beast from Lower Boulonnais. He is 
full of fire. They wanted to make a saddle-horse of him at 
first. Bah ! He reared, he kicked, he laid everybody flat on 
the ground. He was thought to be vicious, and no one knew 
what to do with him. I bought him. I harnessed him to a 
carriage. That is what he wanted, sir; he is as gentle as a 
girl ; he goes like the wind. Ah ! indeed he must not be mounted. 
It does not suit his ideas to be a saddle-horse. Every one has 
his ambition. 'Draw? Yes. Carry? No!' We must sup- 
pose that is what he said to himself." 

'' And he will accomplish the trip? " 

'' Your twenty leagues all at a full trot, and in less than eight 
hours. But here are the conditions." 

" State them." 

**In the first place, you will give him half an hour's breath- 
ing spell midway of the road ; he will eat ; and some one must 
be by while he is eating to prevent the stable boy of the inn from 
stealing his oats ; for I have noticed that in inns the oats are more 
often drunk by the stable men than eaten by the horses." 

"Some one will be by." 

"In the second place — is the cabriolet for Monsieur le 


" Does Monsieur le Maire know how to drive?" 


" Well, Monsieur le Maire will travel alone and without bag- 
gage, in order not to overload the horse ? " 

" Agreed." 

" But as Monsieur le Maire will have no one with him, he 
will be obliged to take the trouble himself of seeing that the 
oats are not stolen." 

"That is understood." 

" I am to have thirty francs a day. The days of rest to be 
paid for also — not a farthing less ; and the beast's food to be 
at Monsieur le Maire's expense." 

M. Madeleine drew three napoleons from his purse and laid 
them on the table. 

"Here is the pay for two days in advance." 


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" Fourthly, for such a journey a cabriolet would be too heavy, 
and would fatiji;ne tlie horse. Monsieur le Maire must conseut 
to travel in a little tilbury that I own." 

"I consent to tliat." 

*' It is light, but it has no cover." 

"That makes no difference to me." 

*'Has Monsieur le Maire reflected that we are In the middle 
of winter?" 

M. Madeleine did not reply. The Fleming resumed : — 

'*That it is very cold?" 

M. Madeleine preserved silence. 

Master Scaufflaire continued: — 

"That it may rain?" 

M. Madeleine raised his head and said : — 

*' The tilbury and the horse will be in front of my door to- 
morrow morning at half-pjvst four o'clock." 

*' Of course, Monsieur le Maire," replied Scaufflaire ; then, 
scratching a speck in the wood of the table with his thumb-nail, 
he resumed with that careless air which the Flemings understand 
so well how to mingle with their shrewdness : — 

" But this is what I am thinking of now : Monsieur le Maire 
has not told me where he is going. Where is Monsieur le Maire 

He had been thinking of nothing else since the beginning of 
the conversation, but he did not know why he had not dared to 
put the question. 

" Are your horse's forelegs good? " said M. Madeleine. 

" Yes, Monsieur le Maire. You must hold him in a little 
when going down hill. Are there many descents between here 
and the place whither yon are going?" 

" Do not forget to be at my door at preciriely half-past font 
o'clock to-morrow morning," replied M. Madeleine ; and he took 
his departure. 

The Fleming remained "utterly stupid," as he himâelf said 
some time afterwards. 

The mayor had been gone two or three minutes when the door 
opened again : it was the ma^or once more. 

He still wore the same impassive and preoccupied air. 

" Monsieur Scaufflaire," said he, " at what sum do you esti- 
mate the value of the horse and tilbury which vou are to let to 
me, — the one bearing the other? " 

"The one dragging the other, Moonieur le Maire." aaid the 
Fleming, with a broad smile- 

" So be it. WeU?'' 


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"Does Monsieur le Maire wisli to purchase them of me? " 

** No ; but I wish to guarantee you in any case. You shall 
give me back the sura at ray return. At what value do you 
estimate your horse and cabriolet?" 

" Five hundred francs, Monsieur le Maire." 

'' Here it is." 

M. Madeleine laid a bank-bill on the table, then left the 
room ; and this time he did not return. 

Master Scaufflaire experienced a frightful regret that he had 
not said a thousand francs. Besides, the horse and tilbury 
together were worth but a hundred crowns. 

Tlie Fleming called his wife, and related the affair to her. 
'* Where the devil could Monsieur le Maire be going?" They 
held counsel together. *' lie is going to Paris," said the wife. 
" I don't believe it," said the husband. 

M. Madeleine had forgotten the paper with the figures on it, 
and it lay on tlie chimney-piece. The Fleming picked it up 
and studied it. "Five, six, eight and a half? That must 
designate the posting relays." He turned to his wife : — 

" I have found out." 


*'It is five leagues from here to Hesdin, six from Hesdin to 
Saint-Pol, eight and a half from Saint-Pol to Arras. He is 
going to Arras." 

Meanwhile, M. Madeleine had returned home. He had taken 
the longest way to return from Master Scauflttaire's, as though 
the parsonage door had been a temptation for him, and he had 
wished to avoid it. He ascended to his room, and there he shut 
himself up, which was a very simple act, since he liked to go tc 
bed early. Nevertheless, the portress of the factory, who was, 
at the same time, M. Madeleine's only servant, noticed that the 
latter's light was extinguished at half- past eight, and she men- 
tioned it to the cashier when he came home, adding : — 

'' Is Monsieur le Maire ill? I thought he bad a rather singu 
W air." 

This cashier occupied a room situated directly under M. Mad 
aleine's chamber. He paid no heed to the portress's word», 
but went to bed and to sleep. Towards midnight he woke up 
with a 8tai*t ; in his sleep he had heard a noise above his head. 
He listened ; it was a footstep pacing back and forth, as though 
some one were walking in the room above him. He listenod 
more attentively, and recognized M. Madeleine's step. This 
stnick him as strange ; usually, there was no noise in M. 
Madeleine's chamber u^til he rose in the morning. A moment 


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later the cashier heard a noise which resembled that of a cap 
board being opened, and then shut again ; then a piece of fur 
niture was disarranged ; tlien a pause ensued ; then the step begaie 
again. The cashier sat up in bed, quite awake now, and star- 
ing ; and through his window-panes he saw the reddish glean* 
of a lighted window reflected on the opposite wall; from the 
direction of the rays, it could only come from the window of 
M. Madeleine's chamber. The reflection wavered, as though it 
came rather from a fire which had been lighted than from a 
candle. The shadow of the window-frame was not shown, 
which indicated that the window was wide open. The fact that 
this window was open in such cold weather was surprising. 
The cashier fell asleep again. An hour or two later he waked 
again. The same step was st^ll passing slowly and regnlarlv 
back aud forth overliead. 

The reflection was still visible on the wall, but now it wafl 
pale nnd peaceful, like the reflection of a lamp or of a candle 
The window was still open. 

This is what had taken place in M. Madeleine's room. 

in. — A Tempest in a Skull. 

The reader has, no doubt, already divined that M. Madeleine 
is no other thau Jean Valjean. 

We have already gazed into the depths of this conscience ; 
the moment has now come when we must take another look 
into it. We do so not without emotion and trepidation. There 
is nothing more terrible in existence than this sort of contem- 
plation. The eye of the spirit can nowliere find more dazzling 
brilliance and more shadow than in man ; it can fix itself on no 
other thing which is more formidable, more complicated, nx re 
mysterious, and more infinite. There is a spectacle more grard 
than the sea ; it is heaven : there is a spectacle more grand than 
heaven ; it is the inmost recesses of the soul. 

To make the poem of the human conscience, were It only 
with reference to a single man, were it only in connection with 
the basest of men, would be to blend all epics into one snperioi 
and definitive epic. Conscience is the chaos of chimeras, of 
lusts, and of temptations ; the furnace of dreams ; the lair of 
Ideas of which we are ashamed ; it is the panderoonlnm of 
sophisms ; it is the battle-field of the passions. Penetrate, af 
rertain hours, past the livid face of a human being who is en- 
gaged in reflection, and look behind, gaze into that soul, gasf 


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FAN TINE. 209 

into that obscurity. There, beneath that external silence, bat- 
tles of giants, like those recorded in Homer, are in progress ; 
Bkirmishes of dragons and hydras and swarms of phantoms, as 
in Milton ; visionary circles, as in Dante. What a solemn 
thing is this infinity which every man bears within him, and 
which he measures with despair against the caprices of his 
brain and the actions of his life ! 

iVlighieri one day met with a sinister-looking door, before 
which he hesitated. Here is one before us, upon whose thresh- 
jld we hesitate. Let us enter, nevertheless. 

We have but little to add to what the reader already knows 
of what had happened to Jean Valjean after the adventure with 
Little Gervais. From that moment forth he was, as we have 
seen, a totally different man. What the Bishop had wished to 
make of him, that he carried out. It was more than a trans- 
formation ; it was a transfiguration. 

He succeeded in disappearing, sold the Bishop's silver, reserv- 
ing only the candlesticks as a souvenir, crept from town to 
town, traversed France, came to M. sur M., conceived the idea 
which we have mentioned, accomplished what we have related, 
succeeded in rendering himself safe from seizure and inacces- 
sible, and, thenceforth, established at M. sur M., happy in 
feeling his conscience saddened by the past and the first half of 
his existence belied by the last, he lived in peace, reassured 
and hopeful, having henceforth only two thoughts, — to conceal 
his name and to sanctifv his life ; to escape men and to return 
to God. 

These two thoughts were so closely intertwined in his mind 
that they formed but a single one there ; both were equally ab- 
sorbing and imperative and ruled his slightest actions. In gen- 
eral, they conspired to regulate the conduct of his life ; they 
turned him towards the gloom ; they rendered him kindly and 
simple ; they counselled him to the same things. Sometimes, 
however, they conflicted. In that case, as the reader will re- 
member, the man whom all the country of M. sur M. called M. 
Madeleine did not hesitate to sacrifice the first to the second — 
iiia security to his virtue. Thus, in spite of all his reserve and 
all his prudence, he had preserved the Bishop's candlesticks, 
worn mourning for him, summoned and interrogated all the 
little Savoyards who passed that way, collected information 
^ega^ding the families at Faverolles, and saved old Fauchele- 
vent's life, despite the disquieting insinuations of Javert. It 
beemed, as we have already remarked, as though he thought, 


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following the example of all tiiose who h:ive been wise, holy, 
and just, that his first duty was not towards hiiDsclf. 

At the same time, it must be confessed, nothing just like this 
had yet presented itself. 

Never had the two ideas which governed the unhappy man 
whose sufferings we are narrating, engaged in bo serious a 
struggle. lie understood this confusedly but profoundly at tlu* 
very first words pronounced by Javert, when the latter entered 
his study. At the moment when that name, which he had bur- 
ied beneath so many la3ers, was so strangely articulated, he 
was struck with stupor, and as though intoxicated with the sin- 
ister eccentricity of his destiny ; and through this stupor be felt 
that shudder which precedes great shocks. He bent like an oak 
at the approach of a storm, like a soldier at the approach of 
an assault. He felt shadows filled with thunders and lightnings 
descending upon his head. As he listened to Javert, the 
first thought wliich occurred to him was to go, to run and de- 
nounce himself, to take that Chainpmatliieu out of prison and 
place himself there ; this was as painful and as poignant as an 
incision in the living flesh. Then it passed away, and he said 
to himself, " We will see ! We will see ! " He repressed this 
first, generous instinct, and recoiled before heroism. 

It would be beautiful, no doubt, after the Bishop's holy 
words, after so many years of repentance and abnegation, in 
the midst of a penitence admirably begun, if this man had 
not flinched for an instant, even in the presence of so ten*ible a 
conjecture, but had continued to walk with the same step 
towards tliis yawning precipice, at the bottom of which lay 
heaven ; that would have been beautiful ; but it was not thus. 
We must render an account of the things which went on in this 
soul, and we can only tell what there was there. He was car- 
ried away, at first, by the instinct of self-preservation ; lie 
rallied all his ideas in haste, stifled his emotions, took into eon 
sideration Javert's presence, that gieat danger, postponed all 
decision with the firmness of terror, shook off thought as to what 
he had to do, and resumed his calmness as a warrior picks up 
his buckler. 

He remained in this state during the rest of the day, a whirl- 
wind within, a profound tranquillity without. He took no 
''* preservative measures," as they may be called. Everything 
was still confused, and jostling together in his brain. His 
trouble was so great that he could not perceive the form of a 
single idea distinctly, and he could have t<;ld nothing about him 
self, except that he had received a great blow. 


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He repaired to Fantiiie's bed of suffering, as usual, and pro- 
longed his visit, through a kindly instinct, telling himself that 
he must behave thus, and recommend her well to the sisters, in 
case he should be obliged to be absent himself. He had a 
vague feeling that he might be obliged to go to Arras ; and 
without having the least in the world made up his mind to this 
trip, he said to himself that being, as he was, beyond the 
shadow of any suspicion, there could be nothing out of the way 
in being a witness to what was to take place, and he engaged 
the tilbury from Scaufflaire in order to be prepared in any event. 

He dined with a good deal of appetite. 

On returning to his room, he communed with himself. 

He examined the situation, and found it unprecedented ; so 
unprecedented that in the midst of his revery he rose from his 
3hair, moved by some inexplicable impulse of anxiety, and 
bolted his door. He feared lest something more should enter. 
He was barricading himself against possibilities. 

A moment later he extinguished his light; it embarrassed 

It seemed to him as though he might be seen. 

By whom ? 

Alas ! That on which he desired to close the door had already 
. mtered ; that which he desired to blind was staring him in the 
face, — his conscience. 

His conscience ; that is to say, God. 

Nevertheless, he deluded himself at first; he had a feeling of 
security and of solitude ; the bolt once drawn, he thought him- 
st4f impregnable ; the candle extinguished, he felt himself invis- 
il)le. Then he took possession of himself : he set his elbows 
OQ the table, leaned his head on his hand, and began to medi- 
tate in the dark. 

'* Where do I stand? Am not I dreaming? What have I 
heard ? Js it really true that I have seen that Javert, and that 
he spoke to me in that manner? Who can that Champmathieu 
be ? So he resembles me ! Is it possible ? When I reflect that 
Yesterday I was so tranquil, and so far from suspecting anything ! 
What was I doing yesterday at this hour? What is there in this 
incident? What will the end be? What is to be done? " 

This was the torment in which he found himself. His brain 
had lost its power of retaining ideas ; they passed like waves, 
and he clutched his brow in both hands to arrest them. 

Nothing but anguish extricated itself from this tumult which 
overwhelmed his will and his reason, and from which he sought 
t<> tiraw proof and resolution. 


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His head was burning. He went to the window and thren 
t wide open. There were no stars in the sky. He retomeé 
and seated himself at the table. 

The first hour passed in this manner. 

Gradually, however, vague outlines began to take form ami 
to fix themselves in his meditation, and he was able to catch t 
glimpse with precision of the reality, — not the whole situation, 
but some of the details. He began by recognizing the fact 
that,' critical and extraordinary as was this situation, he was 
completely master of it. 

This only caused an increase of his stupor. 

Independently of the severe and religious aim which he ha<l 
assigned to his actions, all that he had made up to that day hac* 
been nothing but a hole in which to bury his name. That whic?£ 
he had always feared most of all in his hours of self-communion . 
during his sleepless nights, was to ever hear that name pro 
nounced ; he had said to himself that that would be the end o\ 
all things for him ; that on the day when that name made iti 
reappearance it would cause his new life to vanish from aboa i 
him, and — who knows ? — perhaps even his new soul within him 
also. He shuddered at the very thought that this was possible 
Assuredly, if any one had said to him at such moments that th«' 
hour would come when that name would ring in his ears, wheit 
the hideous words, Jean Valjean, would suddenly emerge front 
the darkness and rise in front of him, when that formidabl** 
light, capable of dissii)ating the mystery in which he had envel- 
oped himself, would suddenly blaze forth above his bead, an I 
that that name would not menace him, that that light would but 
produce an obscurity more dense, that this rent veil would 
but increase the mystery, that this earthquake would solidify 
his edifice, that this prodigious incident would have no other 
result, so far as he was concerned, if so it seemed good to him, 
than that of rendering his existence at once clearer and more 
impenetrable, and that, out of his confrontation with the phan* 
tom of Jean Valjean, the good and worthy citizen Monsieur 
Madeleine would emerge more honored, more peaceful, and 
more respected than ever — if any one had told him that, ho 
would have tossed his head and regarded the words as those of 
a madman. Well, all this was precisely what had just come to 
pass ; all that accumulation of im[)ossibilities was a fact, ani\ 
God had permitted these wild fancies to become real things ! 

His revery continued to grow clearer. He came more ancl 
more to an understanding of his position. 

It seemed to him that he had but just waked up from somv 


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inexplicable dream, and that he found himself slipping down a 
declivity in the middle of the night, erect, shivering, holding 
back all in vain, on the very brink of the abyss. He distinctly 
perceived in the darkness a stranger, a man unknown to him, 
whom destiny had mistaken for him, and whom she was thrust- 
ing into the gulf in his stead ; in order that the gulf might close 
once more, it was necessary that some one, himself or that 
other man, should fall into it : he had only let things take their 

The light became complete, and he acknowledged this to him- 
self : That his place was empty in the galleys ; that do what he 
«roald, it was still awaiting him ; that the theft from little Ger- 
vais had led him back to it ; that this vacant place would await 
him, and draw him on until he filled it ; that this was inevitable 
and fatal ; and then he said to himself, ^^ that, at this moment, 
he had a substitute ; that it appeared that a certain Champma- 
thicu had that iU luck, and that, as regards himself, being pres- 
ent in the galleys in the person of that Champmathieu, present 
in society under the name of M.- Madeleine, he had nothing 
more to fear, provided that he did not prevent men from sealing 
over the head of that Champmathieu this stone of infamy which, 
like the stone of the sepulchre, falls once, never to rise again." 

All this was so strange and so violent, that there suddenly 
took place in him that indescribable movement, which no man 
feels more than two or three times in the course of his life, a 
sort of convulsion of the conscience which stirs up all that 
there is doubtful in the heart, which is composed of irony, of 
Joy, and of despair, and which may be called an outburst of in- 
ward laughter. 

lie hastily relighted his candle. 

"Well, what then?" he said to himself; " what am I afraid 
of? What is there in all that for me to think about? I am 
safe; all is over. I had but one partly open door through 
which my past might invade my life, and behold that door is 
walled up forever! That Javert, who has been annoying me 
so long ; that terrible instinct which seemed to have divined me, 
which had divined me — good God ! and which followed me 
everywhere ; that frightful hunting-dog, always making a point 
at me, is thrown off the scent, engaged elsewhere, absolutely 
turned from the trail : henceforth he is satisfied ; he will leave 
me in peace ; he has his Jean Valjean. Who knows ? it is even 
probable that he will wish to leave town ! And all this has been 
brought about without any aid from me, and I count for noth- 
ing in it ! Ah ! but where is the misfortune in this ? Upon my 


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honor, people would think, to see me, that some catastrophe 
had happened to mo ! After all, if it does bring harm to some 
one, tliat is not my fault in the least : it is Providence which 
has done it all ; it is because it wishes it so to be, evidently. 
Have I the right to disarrange what it has arranged? What do 
I ask now ? Why should I meddle ? It does not concern me ; 
what ! I am not satisfied : but what more do I want? The goal 
to which I have aspired for so many years, the dream of my 
nights, the object of my prayers to Heaven, — security, — I have 
now attained ; it is God who wills it ; I can do nothing against 
the will of God, and wh}' does God will it? In order that 1 
may continue what I have begun, that I may do good, that I 
may one day be a grand and encouraging example, that it may 
be said at last, that a little happiness has been attached to the 
penance which I have undergone, and to that virtue to which I 
have returned. Really, I do not understand why I was afraid, 
a little while ago, to enter the house of that good curé, and to 
ask his advice ; this is evident!}' what he would have said to 
me : It is settled ; let things take their course ; let the good 
God do as he likes ! " 

Thus did he address himself in the depths of his own con- 
science, bending ov^r what may be called his own abyss; he 
rose from his chair, and began to pace the room : '*Corae,'* said 
he, " let us think no more about it ; my resolve is taken !" but 
he felt no joy. 

Quite the reverse. 

One can no more prevent thought from recurring to an idea 
than one can the sea from returning to the shore : the sailor 
calls it the tide ; the guilty man calls it remorse ; God upheaves 
the soul as he does the ocean. 

After the expiration of a few moments, do what he would, 
he resumed the gloomy dialogue in which it was he who spoke 
and he who listened, saying that which he would have prefeired 
to ignore, and listening to that which he would have preferred 
aot to hear, yielding to that mysterious power which said to hini : 
' Think ! " as it said to another condemned man, two thousand 
years ago, "March on !" 

Before proceeding further, and in order to make ourselves 
fully understood, let us insist upon one necessary observation. 

It is certain that people do talk to themselves ; there is no 
living being who has not done it. It may even be said that the 
word is never a more magnificent mystery than when it goes 
from thought to conscience within a man, and when it returns 
from conscience to thought ; it is in this sense only that the 


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irords bo often employed in this chapter, he saidy he exclaimed, 
must be uuderstood ; one speaks to ouc's self, talks to one's self, 
exclaims to one's self without breaking the external silence ; there 
is a great tumult ; everything about us talks exce[)t the mouth. 
The realities of the soul are none the less realities because they 
are not visible and palpable. 

So he asked himself where he stood. He interrogated himself 
upon that '' settled resolve." He confessed to himself tliat all 
that he had just arranged in his mind was monstrous, that ^^ to 
let things take their course, to let the good God do as he liked," 
was simply hoiTible ; to allow this error of fate and of men to 
be carried out, not to hinder it, to lend himself to it througli 
his silence, to do nothing, in short, was to do everything ! that 
this was hypocritical baseness in the last degree ! that it was a 
base, cowardly, sneaking, abject, hideous crime ! 

For the first time in eight years, the wretched man had just 
tasted the bitter savor of an evil thought and of an evil action. 
He spit it out with disgust. 

He continued to question himself. He asked himself severely 
what he had meant by this, " My object is attained ! " He de- 
clared to himself that his life really had an object ; but what 
object? To conceal his name ? To deceive the police? Was 
it for so petty a thing that he had done all that he had done ? 
Had he not another and a grand object, which was the true one 
— to save, not his pef'son, but his soul ; to become honest and 
gooil once more ; to be a just man?. Was it not that above all, 
that alone, which he had always desired, which the Rishop had 
enjoine<l upon him — to shut the door on his past? But he was 
not shutting it ! great God ! he was re-opcuing it by conmiitting 
an ÎDfamous action ! He was becoming a thief once more, and 
the most odious of thieves ! He was robbing another of his 
existence, his life, his peace, his place in the sunshine. He was 
becoming an assassin. He was murdering, morally murdering, 
a wretched man. He was inflicting on him that frightful living 
death, that death beneath the open sky, which is called the gal- 
leys. On the other hand, to surrender himself to save that man, 
struck down with so melancholy an error, to resume his own 
name, to become once more, out of duty, the convict Jean Val- 
jean, that was, in truth, to achieve his resurrection, and to close 
forever that hell whence he had just emerged ; to fall back there 
in api)earance was to escape from it in reality. This must be 
done ! He had done nothing if he did not do all this ; his whole 
life was useless ; all his penitence was wasted. There was no 
longer any need of saying, '* What is the use?" He felt that 


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the Bishop was there, that the Bishop was present all the moi« 
because he was dead, that the Bishop was gaziug fixedly at him, 
that henceforth Mayor Madeleine, with all his virtues, would be 
abominable to him, and that the convict Jean Valjean would be 
pure and admirable in his sight ; that men beheld his mask, but 
that the Bishop saw his face; that men saw his life, but that 
the Bishop beheld his conscience. So he must go to Arras, 
deliver the false Jean Valjean, and denounce the reid one. Alas Î 
that was the greatest of sacrifices, the most poignant of victo- . 
ries, the last step to take ; but it must be done. Sad fate ! he 
would enter into sanctity only in the eyes of Grod when he re- 
turned to infamy in the eyes of men. 

"Well," said he, ''let us decide upon this; let us do our 
duty ; let us save this man." He uttered these words aloud, 
without perceiving that he was speaking aloud. 

He took his books, verified them, and put them in order. He 
flung in the fire a bundle of bills which he had against petty and 
embarrassed tradesmen. He wrote and sealed a letter, and on 
the envelope it might have been read, had there been any one 
in his chamber at the moment. To Monsieur Laffltte^ Banker ^ 
Rue d* Artois^ Paris, He drew from his secretary a pocket-book 
which contained several bank-notes and the passix)rt of which he 
had made use that same year when he went to the elections. 

Any one who had seen him during the execution of these vari- 
ous acts, into which there entered such grave thought, would 
have had no suspicion of what was going on within him. Only 
occasionally did his lips move ; at other times he raised his head 
and fixed his gaze upon some point of the wall, as though there 
existed at that point something which he wished to elucidate or 

When he had finished the letter to M. LafiStte, he put it into 
his pocket, together with the pocket-book, and began his walk 
3nce more. 

His re very had not swerved from its course. He continued 
to see his duty clearly, written in luminous letters, which flamed 
before his eyes and changed its place as he altered the direction 
of his glance : — 

" Go! Tell your name ! Denounce yourself! " 

In the same way he beheld, as though they had passed before 
him in visible forms, the two ideas which had, up to that time, 
formed the double rule of his soul, — the concealment of his name, 
the sanctification of his life. For the first time they appeared 
to him as absolutely distinct, and he perceived the distance 
which separated them. He recognized the fact that one of these 


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rANTINE. 217 

ideas was, necessarily, good, while the other might become bad ; 
tliat the first was self-devotion, and that the other was person- 
ality ; that the one said, my neighbor^ and that the other said, 
myself; that one emanated from the light, and the other from 

•They were antagonistic. He saw them in conflict. In pro- 
portion as he meditated, they grew before the eyes of his spirit. 
They had now attained colossal statures, and it seemed to him 
that he beheld within himself, in that infinity of which we were 
recently s{)eaking, in the midst of the darkness and the lights, a 
goddess and a giant contending. 

He was filled with terror ; bnt it seemed to him that the good 
thought was getting the upper hand. 

He felt that he was on the brink of the second decisive crisis 
of his conscience and of his destin}* ; that the Bisliop had marked 
the first phase of his new life, and that Champmnthieu marked 
the second. After the grand crisis, the grand test. 

But the fever, allayed for an instant, gradually resumed pos- 
session of him. A thousand thoughts traversed his mind, but 
they continued to fortify him in his resolution. 

One moment he said to himself that he was, perhaps, taking 
the matter too keenly ; that, after all, this Champmathieu was 
not interesting, and that he had actually been guilty of theft. 

He answered himself : ^^ If this man has, indeed, stolen a few 
apples, that means a month in prison. It is a long way from 
that to the galleys. And who knows ? Did he steal ? Has it 
been proved? The name of Jean Valjean overwhelms him, an<l 
seems to dispense with proofs. Do not the attorncN s for the 
Crown alwa3's proceed in this manner ? He is supposed to be a 
thief because he is known to be a convict." 

In another instant the thought had occurred to him that, when 
he denounced himself, the heroism of his deed might, perhaps, 
be taken into consideration, and his honest life for the last seven 
years, and what he had done for the district, and that they would 
have mercy on him. 

But this 8upi)osition vanished very quickly, and he smiled 
bitterly as he remembered that the theft of the forty sous from 
little Gervais put him in the position of a man guilty of a second 
offence after conviction, that this affair would certainly come up, 
and, according to the precise terms of the law, would render him 
liable to penal servitude for life. 

He turned aside from all illusions, detached himself more and 
more from earth, and sought strength and con sol m ti on el se where. 
He told himself that he must do his duty ; that perhaps lie should 


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Dot be more nnhappj after doing his duty than after havû^ 
avoided it ; that if he allowed things to take their own courae^ if 
he remained at M. 8ur M., his consideration, his good name, hid 
good works, the deference and veneration paid to him, his char- 
ity, his wealth, his popularity, his virtue, would be seasoned 
with a crime. And what would be the taste of all these holy 
things when bound up with this hideous thing? while, if he 
accomplished his sacrifice, a celestial idea would be mingled 
with the galleys, the post, the iron necklet, the green cap, un- 
ceasing toil, and pitiless shame. 

At length he told himself that it must be so, that his destiny 
was thus allotted, that he had not authority to alter the arrange- 
ments made on high, that, in any case, he must make his choice : 
virtue without and abomination within, or holiness within and 
înfamy without. 

The stirring up of these lugubrious ideas did not cause bis 
courage to fail, but his brain grew weary. He began to think 
of other things, of indiffèrent matters, in spite of himself. 

The veins in his temples throbbed violently ; he still paced to 
and fro ; midnight sounded first from the parish cluu'ch, then 
from the town-hall ; he counted the twelve strokes of tlie two 
clocks, and compared the sounds of the two bells ; he recalled 
in this connection the fact that, a few days previously, he had 
seen in an ironmonger's shop an ancient clock for sale, upon 
which was written the name, Antohie-Albin de RoinainviUe, 

He was cold ; he lighted a small fire ; it did not occur to bin 
to close the window. 

In the meantime he had relapsed into his stupor ; be was 
obliged to make a tolerably vigorous effort to recall what had 
been the subject of his thoughts before midnight had struck ; 
he finally succeeded in doing this. 

'* Ah! yes," he said to himself, ''I had resolved to inform 
against myself." 

And then, all of a sudden, he thought of Fan tine. 

*' Hold ! " said he, '* and what about that poor woman? " 

Here a fresh crisis declared itself. 

Fantine, by appearing thus abruptly in his re very, produced 
the effect of an unexpected ray of light ; it seemed to him as 
though everything about him were undergoing a change ot 
aspect : he exclaimed : — 

" Ah 1 but I have hitherto considered no one but myself; it 
is proper for me to hold my tongue or to denounce myself, to 
conceal my peraon or to save my soul, to be a despicable and 
respected magistrate, or an infamous and venerable convict ; \% 


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FANTINB. tiff 

kl I, it Ib oiwayB I and nothing but I : but, good God ! all thia 
h egotism ; these ai*e diverae forms of egotism, but it is co- 
tisai all the same. What if I were to think a little about 
others? The highest holiness is to think of others ; come, let 
OS examine the matter. The / excepted, the / effaced, the 1 
forgotten, what would be the result of all this? What if I de* 
Qonnoe myself? I am arrested; this Champmathieu is re- 
leased; I am put back in the galleys ; that is well — and what 
then? What is going on here? Ah ! here is a country, a townr 
here are factories, an industr}', workers, both men and women, 
Aged grandsires, children, poor people ! All this I have cre- 
ated ; all these I provide with their living ; everywhere where 
there is a smoking chimney, it is I who have placed the brand 
on the hearth and meat in the pot ; I have created ease, circu- 
lation, credit ; before me there was nothing ; I have elevated, 
vivifieid, informed with life, fecundated, stimulated, enriched the 
whole country-side ; lacking me, the soul is lacking ; I take my* 
self off, everything dies : and this woman, who has suffered so 
much, who possesses so many merits in spite of her fall ; the 
cause of all whose misery I have unwittingly been I And that 
child whom I meant to go in search of, whom I have promised 
to her mother ; do I not also owe something to this woman ^ ir 
reparation for the evil which I have done her ? If I disappear- 
what happens ? The mother dies ; the child becomes what it 
can ; that is what will take place, if I denounce myself. If 1 
do not denounce myself? come, let us see how it will be if I do 
not denounce myself." 

After putting this question to himself, he paused ; he seemed 
to andei^o a momentary hesitation and trepidation ; but it did 
not last long, and he answered himself calmly : — 

^^ Well, this man is going to the galleys ; it is true, but what 
the deuce I he has stolen ! There is no use in my saying that 
he has not been guilty of theft, for he has ! I remain here ; 1 
go on : in ten years I shall have made ten millions ; I scatter 
them over the country ; I have nothing of m^- own ; what is 
that to me? It is not for myself that I am doing it ; the pros- 
perity of all goes on augmenting ; industries are aroused and 
animated ; factories and shops are multiplied ; families, a hun- 
dred famÛies, a thousand families, are happy ; the district be- 
comes populated ; villages spring up where there were only farms 
before ; farms rise where there was nothing ; wretchedness dis- 
appears, and with wretchedness debauchery, prostitution, theft, 
murder ; all vices disappear, all crimes : and this poor mother 
rears her child ; and behold a whole country rich and honest ! 


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Ah ! 1 was a fool I I was absurd ! what was that I was sajiog 
about denounchig myself? I really must pay attention and dg< 
be precipitate about anything What ! because it would hava 
pleased me to play the grand and generous ; this is melodramac 
after all ; because I should have thought of no one but myself, 
the idea ! for the sake of saving from a punishment, a trilQe ex- 
f^gcrated, perhaps, but just at bottom, no one knows whom, a 
thief, a good-for-nothing, evidently, a whole country-side most 
perish ! a poor woman must die in the hospital ! a poor little 
girl must die in the street! like dogs; ah, this is abominable! 
And without the mother even having seen her child once more, 
almost witliout the child*s having known her mother ; and all that 
for the sake of an old wretch of an apple-Uiief who, most 
assuredly, has deserved the galleys for something else, if not 
for that ; fine scruples, indeed, which save a guilty man and 
sacrifice the innocent, which save an old vagabond who has only 
a few years to live at most, and who will not be more unhappy 
in the galleys than in his hovel, and which sacrifice a whole pop- 
ulation, motliera, wives, children. This \yx>r little Cosette who 
has no one in the wo^td but me, and who is, no doubt, blue 
with cold at this moment in the den of those Thénardiers ; those 
peoples are rascals ; and I was going to neglect my duty 
towards all these i>o()r creatm-es ; and I was going off to de- 
nounce myself ; and I was about ^o commit that unspeakable 
folly ! Let us put it at the wv^rst : supiK)se that there is a 
wrong action on my part in this, and that my conscience will 
reproach me for it sonje day, to accept, for the good of others, 
these reproaches which weigh only on myself ; this evil action 
which compromises my soul alone ; in that lies self-bacrifioe ; in 
that alone there is virtue." 

He rose and resumed his march ; this time, he seemed to ba 

Diamonds are found only in the dark places of the earth; 
wHiths are found only in the depths of thought. It seemed to 
him, that, after having descended into these depths, after having 
long groped among the darkest of these shadows, he had at last 
found one of these diamonds, one of these truths, and that he now 
held it in his hand, and he was dazzled as he gazed upon it. 

" Yes," he thought, '' this is right; I am on the right road ; 
I have the solution ; I must end by holding fast to something ; 
my resolve is taken ; let things take their course ; Jet us no 
longer vacillate ; let us no longer hang back ; tbis is for 
the interest of all, not for my own ; I am Madeleine, and 
Madeleine I remain. Woe to the man who is Jean Val j 


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jeao ! I am no longer he ; I do not know that man ; I no longei 
know anything ; it turns out that some one is Jean Val jean at 
the present moment; let him look out for himself; that doea 
not ooncem me ; it is a fatal name which was floating abroad in 
the night; if it halts and descends on a head, so much the 
worse for that head." 

He looked into the little mirror which hung above his chim* 
ue3'-piece, and said : — 

^^ Hold ! it has relieved me to come to a decision ; I am quite 
another man now.** 

He proceeded a few paces further, then he stopped short 

** Come I " he said, '* I must not flinch before any of the con- 
lequenoes of the resolution which I have once adopted ; tliere 
are still threads which attach me to that Jean Valjean ; they 
must be broken ; in this very room there are objects which 
would betray me, dumb things whicli would bear witness against 
me ; it is settled ; all these things must disappear." 

He fumbled in his pocket, drew out his purse, opened it, and 
took out a small key ; he inserted the key in a lock whose 
i^rture could hardly be seen, so hidden was it in the most 
sombre tones of the design which coverod the wall-papcr ; a se- 
cret receptacle opened, a sort of false cnpl)oard constructed in 
the angle between the wall ana the chinniey-piece ; in this hid- 
ing-place there were some rags — a blue linen blouse, an old pair 
of trousers, an old knapsack, and a huge thorn cudgel shod 
with iron at both ends. Those who had seen Jean Vaijean at 
the epoch when he passed through D. in October, 1815, could 
easily have recognized all tlie pieces of. this miserable outfit. 

He had preserved them as he had preserved the silver candle- 
sticks, in oixler to remind himself continually of his starting- 
point, but he had concealed all that came from the galleys, and 
he had allowed the candlesticks which came from the Bishop to 
be seen» 

He cast a furtive glance towards the door, as thougli he 
feared that it would open in spite of the bolt which fastened it ; 
then, with a quick and abrupt movement, he took the whole in 
his arms at once, without bestowing so much as a glance on the 
things which he had so religiously and so perilously preserved 
for so many years, and flung them all, rags,, cudgel, knapsack, 
into the fire. 

He closed the false cupboard again, and with redoubled pre- 
cautions, henceforth unnecessary, since it was now empty, he 
concealed the door behind a heavy piece of furniture, which he 
poshed in front of it. 


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After the lapse of a few seconds, the room and the opposite 

wall were liglited up with a fierce, red, tremulous glow. Every- 
thing was on fire; the thorn cudgel snapped and threw out 
sparks to the middle of the chamber. 

As the knapsack was consumed, together with the hideous 
rags which it contained, it revealed something which sparkled 
in the ashes. By bending over, one could have readily recog- 
nized a coin, — no doubt the forty-sou piece stolen from the 
U^Ue Savoyard. 

He did not look at the fire, but paced back and forth with the 
same step. 

All at once his e^e fell on the two silver candlesticks, which 
shone vaguely on the chimney-piece, through tiie glow. 

" Hold ! " he thought ; "the whole of Jean Val jean is still hi 
them. They must be destroyed also." 

He seized the two candlesticks. 

There was still fire enough to allow of their being put out 
of shape, and converted into a sort of unrecognizable bar of 

He bent over the hearth and warmed himself for a moment. 
He felt a sense of i*eal comfort. " How good warmth is ! " said 

He stirred the live coals with one of the candlesticks. 

A minute more, and they were both in the fire. 

At that moment it seemed to him that he heard a voice within 
him shouting : " Jean Val jean ! Jean Valjean ! " 

His hair rose upright : he became like a man who is listening 
to some terrible thing. 

"Yes, that's it! finish! " said tlic voice. "Complete what 
3'ou are about! Destroy these candlesticks! Auuihilate this 
souvenir! Forget the Bishop! Forget everything! Destroy 
this Champmathieu, do ! That is right ! Applaud yourself! 80 
t is settled, resolved, fixed, agreed: here is an old man who 
loes not know what is wanted of him, who has, perhaps, done 
aothing, an innocent man, whose whole misfortune lies in your 
name, upon whom your name weighs like a crime, who is about 
to be taken for you, who will be condemned, who will finish his 
days in abjectness and hoiTor. That is good ! Be an honest 
man yourself; remain Monsieur le Maire ; remain honorable and 
honored ; enrich the town ; nourish the indigent ; rear the or- 
phan ; live happy, virtuous, and admired ; and, during this time, 
while yon are here in the midst of joy and light, there will be a 
man who will wear your red blouse, who will bear your name in 


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Ignominy, and who will drag your chain in the galleys. Tes, it 

is well arranged thus. Ah, wretch I " 

The perspiration streamed from his brow. He fixed a haggara 
eye on the candlesticks. But that witliiu him which had spoken 
bad not finished. The voice continued : — 

'* Jean Valjean, there will be around you many voices, which 
will make a great noise, which will talk very loud, and which 
will bless you, and only one which no one will hear, and which 
will curse you in the dark. Well ! listen, infamous man ! All 
those benedictions will fall back before they reach heaven, and 
only the malediction will ascend to God.'* 

This voice, feeble at first, and which had proceeded from the 
most obscure depths of his conscience, had gradually become 
startling and formidable, and he now heard it in his very 
ear. It seemed to him that it had detached itself from him, and 
that it was now speaking outside of him. He thought that he 
heard the last words so distinctly, that he glanced aronnd the 
room in a sort of terror. 

^^ Is there any one here? " he demanded aloud, In utter bewil- 

Then he resumed, with a laugh which resembled that of an 
Idiot : — 

" How stupid I am ! There can be no one ! " 

There was some one ; but the person who was there was of 
those whom the human eye cannot see. 

He placed the candlesticks on the chimney-piece. 

Then he resumed his monotonous and lugubrious tramp, which 
troubled the dreams of the sleeping man beneath him, and awoke 
bim with a start. 

This tramping to and fro soothed and at the same time intox- 
icated him. It sometimes seems, on supreme occasions, as 
though people moved about for the purpose of asking advice of 
everything that they may encounter b}' change of place. After 
the la|)se of a few minutes he no longer knew his position. 

He now recoiled in equal terror before both the resolutions at 
which he had arrived in turn. The two ideas which counselled 
him appeared to him equally fatal. What a fatality ! What con- 
junction that that Champmathieu should have been taken for 
him ; to be overwhelmed by precisely' the means which Providence 
seemed to have employed, at first, to strengthen his position I 

There was a moment when he reflected on the future. De- 
nounce himself, great God ! Deliver himself up ! With immense 
despair he faced all that he should be obliged to leave, all that 
he should be obliged to take up once more. He should have to 


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bid farewell to that existence which was so good, so pare, so nidl« 

ant, to the respect of all, to honor, to liberty. He should never 
more stroll in the fields ; he should never more hear the birds sing 
m the month of May ; he should never more bestow alms on the 
little children ; he should never more experience tlie sweetness of 
having glances of gratitude and love fiied upon him ; he should 
quit that house which he had built, that little chamber ! Every- 
thing seemed charming to him at that moment. Never again 
should he read those books ; never more should he write on that 
little table of white wood ; his old portress, the only servant 
whom he kept, would never more bring him his coffee in the morn- 
ing. Great God ! instead of that, the convict gang, the iron neck- 
let, the red waistcoat, the chain on his ankle, fatigue, the cell, the 
camp bed, all those horrors which he knew so well ! At his age, 
after having been what he was ! If he were only young again ! 
but to be addressed in his old age as " thou " by any one who 
pleased ; to be searched by the convict guard ; to receive the 
galley-sergeant's cudgellings ; to wear iron-bound shoes on his 
bare feet ; to have to stretch out his leg night and morning to 
the hammer of the roundsman who visits the gang ; to submit 
to the curiosity of strangers, who would be told : *' That man 
yonder is the famous Jean Valjean, who was mayor of M. sur 
M."; and at night, dripping with perspiration, overwhelmed 
with lassitude, their green caps drawn over their e^^es, to remount, 
two by two, the ladder staircase of the galleys beneath the sei- 
geant's whip. Oh, what misery ! Can destiny, then, be as mali- 
cious as an intelligent being, and become as monstrous as the 
human heart? 

And do what he would, he always fell back upon the heart- 
rending dilemma which lay at the foundation of his revery : 
" Should he remain in paradise and become a demon? Should 
he return to hell and become an angel ? " 

What was to be done? Great God ! what was to be done? 

The torment fi*om which he had escaped with so much diffi- 
culty was unchained afresh within him. His ideas began to 
grow confused once more ; they assumed a kind of stupefied 
and mechanical quality which is peculiar to despair. The name 
of Romainville recurred incessantly to his mind, with the two 
verses of a song which he had heard in the past. He thought 
that Romainville was a little grove near Paris, where young 
lovers go to pluck lilacs in the month of April. 

He wavered outwardly as well as inwardly. He walked like 
a little child who is permitted to toddle alone. 

At intervals, as he combated his lassitude, he made an effort 


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to recover the mastery of his mind. He tried to put to himself t 
for the last time, and definitively, the problem over which hi 
bad, iD £i manner, fallen prostrate with fatigue : Ought he to 
denounce himself ? Ought he to hold his peace ? Ile could not 
manage to see anything distinctly. The vague aspects of all 
die courses of reasoning which had been sketched out by his 
meditations quivered and vanished, one after the other, into 
smoke. He only felt that, to whatever course of action he made 
Dp his mind, something in him must die, and that of necessity, 
and without his being able to escape the fact ; that he was en- 
tering a sepulchre on the right hand as much as on the left ; 
that he was passing through a death agony, — the agony of his 
happiness, or the agony of his virtue. 

Alas ! all his in'esolution had again taken possession of him. 
He was no further advanced than at the beginning. 

Thus did this unhappy sonl struggle in its anguish. Eighteen 
hundred years before this unfortunate man, the mysterious 
Being in whom are summed up all the sanctities and all the 
Bufferings of humanity had also long thrust aside with his hand, 
while the olive-trees quivered in the wild wind of the infinite, 
the terrible cup which appeared to Him dripping with darkness 
and overflowing with shadows in the depths all studded with 

rV. — Forms assttmed by Sufferino during Sleep. 

Three o'clock in the morning had just struck, and he had 
heen walking thus for five hours, almost uninterruptedly, when 
he at length allowed himself to drop into his chair. 

There he fell asleep and had a dream. 

This dream, like the majority of dreams, bore no relation to 
the situation, except by its painful and heart-rending character, 
but it made an impression on him. This nightmare struck him 
80 forcibly that he wrote it down later on. It is one of tlie 
papers in his own handwriting which he has bequeathed to us. 
We think that we have here reproduced the thing in strict ac- 
cordance with the text. 

Of whatever nature this dream may be, the history of this 
night would be incomplete if we were to omit it : it is the gloomy 
Adventure of an ailing soul. 

Here it is. On the envelope we find this line inscribed, 
**The Dream I had that Night." 

^^ I was in a plain ; a vast, gloomy plain, where there was 
no grass. It did not seem to me to be daylight nor yet night. 


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^* I was walking with my brother, the brother of my cbildisb 
years, the brother of whom, I must say, I never think, and 
whom I now hardly remember. 

' ' We were coDversing and we met some passers-by* We were 
talking of a neighbor of ours in former days, who had always 
worked with her window open from the time when she came to 
tive on the street. As we talked we felt cold because of that 
open window. 

''*' There were no trees in the plain. We saw a man passing 
close to us. He was entirely nude, of the hue of ashes, and 
mounted on a horse which was earth color. The man had no 
hair ; we could see his skull and the veins on it. In his hand 
he held a switch which was as supple as a vine-shoot and as 
heavy as iron. This horseman passed and said nothing to us. 

" My brother said to me, ' Let us take to the hollow road.' 

^^ There existed a hollow way wherein one saw neither a 
single shrub nor a spear of moss. Everything was dirt- 
colored, even the sky. After proceeding a few paces, I 
received no reply when I spoke : I perceived that my brother 
was no longer with me. 

^^ I entered a village which I espied. I reflected that it must 
be Romainville. (Why Romainville ?) * 

"The first street that I entered was deserted. I entered a 
second street. Behind the angle formed by tiie two streets, 
a man was standing erect against the wall* I said to this 
man : — 

"* What country is this? Where am I?* The man made 
no reply. I saw the door of a house open, and I entered. 

' ^ The fii st chamber was deserted. I entered the second . Be- 
hind the door of this chamber a man was standing erect against 
the wall. I inquired of this man, ^ Whose house is this ? 
Where am I?' The man replied not. 

" The house had a garden. I quitted the house and entered 
the garden. The garden was deserted. Behind the first tree 
I found a man standing upright. I said to this man, ^ What 
garden is this ? Where am I ? ' The man did not answer. 

" I strolled into the village, and perceived that it was a town. 
All the streets were deserted, all the doors were open. Not a 
single living being was passing in the streets, walking throngh 
the chambers, or strolling in the gardens. But behind each 
angle of the walls, behind each door, behind each tree, stood a 
silent man. Only one was to be seen at a time. These men 
watched me pass. 

1 This parenthesis is due to Jean ValjeaiL 


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*^I left the town and began to ramble about the fields. 

*^ After the lapse of some time I turned back and saw a great 
crowd coming up behind me. I recognized all the men whom I 
bad seen in that town. They had strange heads. They did 
not seem to be in a hurry, yet they walked faster than I did 
They made no noise as they walked. In an instant this crowd 
had overtaken and surrounded , me. The faces of these men 
were earthen in hue. 

^^ Then the first one whom I had seen and questioned on en 
tering the town said to me : — 

^^ ^ Whither are you going 1 Do you not know that you have 
been dead this long time?' 

^^ I opened my mouth to reply, and I perceived that there was 
no one near me." 

He woke. He was icy cold. A wind which was chill like 
the breeze of dawn was rattling the leaves of the window, 
which had been left open on their hinges. The fire was out. 
The candle was uearing its end. It was still black night. 

He rose, he went to the window. There were no stars in the 
sky even yet. 

From his window the yard of the house and the street were 
visible. A sharp, harsh noise, which made him drop his eyes, 
resounded from aie eaiih. 

Below him he perceived two red stars, whose rays lengthened 
and shortened in a singular manner through the dai'kness. 

As his thoughts were still half immersed in the mists of sleep, 
^^ Hold ! " said he, ^' there are no stars in the sky. They are 
on earth now." 

Bat this confusion vanished ; a second sound similar to the 
first roused him thoroughly ; he looked and recognized the fact 
that these two stare were the lanterns of a carriage. By the 
light which they cast he was able to distinguish the form of 
this vehicle. It was a tilbury harnessed to a small white horse. 
The noise which he had heard was the trampling of the horse's 
hoofs on the pavement. 

" What vehicle is tliis? " he said to himself. '' Who is com- 
ing here so early in the morning?" 

At that moment there came a light tap on the door of hii 

He shuddered from head to foot, and cried in a terrible voice : -^ 

" Who is there?" 

^ocne one said : — 

^^ 1« Monsieur le Maire." 


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He recognized the voice of the old woman who was h:^ 


" Well ! " he replied, '* what is it? " 

'^ Monsieur le Maire, it is just five o'clock in the momiDg." 

''Wliat is thattome?" 

** The cabriolet is here, Monsieur le Maire." 


'*The tilburv." 

*' What tilbury?" 

** Did not Monsieur le Maire order a tilbury?*' 

'' No," said he. 

'^Tlie coachman says that he has come for Mousieoi le 

*' What coachman?" 

*'M, Scaufflaire's coachman." 

"M. Scaufflaire?" 

That name sent a shudder over him, as though a flash of 
lightning had passed in front of his face. 

*' Ah ! yes," he resumed ; " M. Scaufliaire ! " 

If the old woman could have seen him at that moment, s'nc 
would have been frightened. 

A tolerably long silence ensued. He examined the flaaie of 
the candle with a stupid air, and from around the wick he took 
some of the burning wax, which he rolled between his fingers. 
The old woman waited for him. iShe even ventured to uplift 
her voice once more : — 

*' What am I to say, Monsieur le Maire?" 

^^ Say that it is well, and that I am coming down/* 

V. — Hlin>RAMCES. 

The posting service from Arras to M. sur M. was still operatcv^ 
at this period by small mail- wagons of the time of the Empire. 
These mail-wagons were two-wheeled cabriolets, upholstered 
inside with fawn-colored leather, hung on springs, and having 
but two sccitc;, one for the postboy, the other for the traveller. 
The wheeb were armed with those long, offensive axles which 
keep other vehicles at a distance, and which may still be seen 
on the road in Germany. The despatch box, an immense oblong 
coffer, was placed behind the vehicle and formed a part of it. 
This coffer was painted black, and the cabriolet yellow. 

These vehicles, which have no counterimrts nowadays, had 
something distorted and hunchbacked about them ; and wheo 


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ime 8aw them passiDg in the distance, and climbing up some 
road to the horizon, they resembled the insects which are called, 
I think, termites, and wliich, though with but little corselet, 
drag a great train behind them. But they travelled at a very 
rapid rate. The post-wagon which set out from Arras at one 
o'clock every night, after the mail from Paris had passed, ar- 
nved at M. sur M. a little before five o'clock in the morning. 

That night the wagon which was descending to M. sur M. 
bv the Hesdin road, collided at the corner of a street, just as it 
iras entering the town, with a little tilbury harnessed to a white 
horse, which was going in the opposite direction , and in which 
there was but one person, a man enveloped in a mantle. The 
wheel of the tilbury received quite a violent shock. The post- 
man shouted to the man to stop, but the traveller paid no heed 
and pursued his road at full gallop. 

^^ That man is in a devilish huiTy I " said the postman. 

The man thus hastening on was the one whom we have just 
seen struggling in convulsions which are certainly deserving of 

Whither was he going? He could not have told. Why was 
he hastening? He did not know. He was driving at random, 
straight ahead. Whither? To Arras, no doubt ; but he might 
have been going elsewhere as well. At times he was conscious 
of it, and he shuddered. He plunged into the night as into a gulf. 
Something urged him forward; something drew him on. No 
one oould have told what was taking place Within him ; every one 
will understand it. What man is chere who has not entered, at 
least once in his life, into that obscure cavern of the unknown? 

However, he had resolved on nothing, decided nothing, 
formed no plan, done nothing. None of the actions of his 
conscience had been decisive. He was, more than ever, as he 
had been at the first moment. 

Why was he going to Arras? 

He repeated what he had already said to himself when he 
had hired Scaufïiaire's cabriolet : that, whatever the result was 
to be, there was no reason why he should not see with his own 
eyes, and judge of matters for himself; that this was even 
prudent ; that he must know what took place ; that no decision 
could be arrived at without having observed and scrutinized ; 
that one made mountains out of everything from a distance ; 
that, at any rate, when, he should have seen thatCiianipmathieu, 
some wretch, his conscience would probably be greatly relieved 
to allow him to go the galleys in his stead ; that Javert would 
indeed be there ; and that Brevet, that Chenildieu, that Coche* 


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paille, old convicts who had known him ; but they certainU 
would not recognize him; — bah! what an idea! that Javef 
was a hundred leagues from suspecting the truth ; that all con- 
Jectures and all supi)osition8 were fixed on Champmathieu, and 
that there is nothing so headstrong as suppositions and con 
jectures ; that accordingly tliere was no danger. 

That it was, no doubt, a dark moment, but that he should 
emerge from it; that, after all, he held his destiny, however 
bad it might be, in his own hand ; that he was master of it. 
He clung to this thought. 

At bottom, to tell the whole truth, he would have preferred 
not to go to Arras. 

Nevertheless, he was going thither. 

As he meditated, he whipped up his horse, which was pro- 
ceeding at that fine, regular, and even trot which accomplishes 
two leagues and a half an hour. 

In proportion as the cabriolet advanced, he felt something 
within him draw back. 

At daybreak he was in the open country ; the town of M. sur 
M. lay far behind him. He watched the horizon gi'ow white ; 
he stared at all the chilly figures of a winter's dawn as they 
passed before his eves, but without seeing them. The morning 
has its spectres as well as the evening. He did not see them ; 
but without his being aware of it, and by means of a sort of 
penetration which was almost physical, these black silhouettes 
of trees and of hills added some gloomy and sinister quality to 
the violent state of his soul. 

Each time that he passed one of those isolated dwellings 
which sometimes border on the highway, he said to himself, 
*' And yet there are people there within who are sleeping ! " 

The trot of the horse, the bells on the harness, the wheels od 
the road, produced a gentle, monotonous noise. These things 
are charming when one is joyous, and lugubrious when one 
is sad. 

It was broad daylight when he arrived at Hesdin. He halted 
in front of the inn, to allow the horse a breathing spell, and to 
have him given some oats. 

The horse belonged, as Scaufflaire had said, to that small race 
of the Boulonnais, which has too much head, too much belly, 
and not enough neck and shoulders, but which has a broad 
chest, a large crupper, thin, fine legs, and solid hoofs — a homely, 
but a robust and healthy race. Tiie excellent beast had trav* 
elled five leagues in two hours, and had not a drop of sweat ov 
his loins. 


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He did not get ont of the tilbury. The stableman wh« 
brought the oats suddenly bent down and examined the lefl 

^' Are you going far in this condition ? " said the man. 

He replied, with an air of not having roused himself from hia 
fevery : — 


*^ Have you come from a great distance? ** went on the man. 

" Five leagues/' 


" Why do yon say, * Ah?'" 

The man bent down once more, was silent for a moment, 
lith his eyes fixed on the wheel ; then he rose erect and said :— 

^^ Because, though this wheel has travelled five leagues, it 
«ertainly will not travel another quarter of a league." 

He sprang out of the tilbury. 

"What is that you say, my friend?" 

^^ I say that it is a miracle that you should have travelled 
he leagues without you and your horse rolling into some ditch 
00 the highway. Just see here ! " 

The wheel really had suffered serious damage. The shock 
administered by the mail-wagon had split two spokes and 
strained the hub, so that the nut no longer held firm. 

"My friend," he said to the stableman, ^^ is there a wheel- 
wright here?" 

"Certainly, sir." 

" Do me the service to go and fetch him." 

" He is only a step from here. Hey ! Master Bourgaillard I " 

Master BonrgaiUard, the wheelwright, was standing on his 
own threshold. He came, examined the wheel, and made a 
grimace like a surgeon when the latter thinks a limb is broken. 

"Can yon repair this wheel immediately?" 

*• Yes, sir." 

'-^ When can I set out again?" 


* To-morrow!." 

" There is a long day's work on it. Are you in a hurry, sir ? *• 

" In a very great hurry. I must set out again in an hour a| 

e hitest." 

" Impossible, sir." 

*• I will pay whatever you ask** 

" Impossible." 

** Well, in two hours, then." 

<< Impossible to-day. Two new spokes and a hub must be 


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made. Monsieur will not be able to start before to-mono^ 

*'Tbe matter cannot wait until to-morrow. What if jjk 
were to replace this wheel instead of repairing it?** 

"How so?'* 

** You are a wheelwright?** 

*' Certainly, sir.** 

^* Have you not a wheel that yon can seU me? Then 1 ocvk 
start again at once.** 

'*A spare wheel?'* 

'' Yes.** 

^^ I have no wheel on hand that would fit your cabriolet. 
Two wheels make a pair. Two wheels cannot be put together 

" In that case, sell me a pair of wheels.** 

" Not all wheels fit all axles, sir.** 

"Try, nevertheless." 

"It is useless, sir. I have nothing to sell but cart*wheeli« 
We are but a poor country here." 

*' Have you a cabriolet that you can let me have?** 

The wheelwright had seen at the first glance that the tilbory 
was a hired vehicle. He shrugged his shoulders. 

" You treat the cabriolets that people let you so welll If I 
bad one, I would not let it to you I ** 

" Well, sell it to me, then." 

** I have none." 

"What! not even a spring-cart? I am not hard to please* 
as you see.** 

" We live in a poor country. There is, in truth,*' added the 
wheelwright, "an old calash under the shed yonder, which be- 
longs to a bourgeois of the town, who gave it to me to take 
care of, and who only uses it on the t!iirty-sixth of the month 
— never, that is to say. I might let that to you, for what 
matters it to me? But the bourgeois must not see it pass-' 
and then, it is a calash ; it would require two horsea.** 

" I will take two post-horses." 

♦' Where is Monsieur going?** 

" To Arras." 

*' And Monsieur wishes to reach there to-day?* 

•• Yes, of course." 

*♦ By taking two post-horses ? '' 

"Why not?" 

" Does it make any différence whether Monsieur 
«t four o'clock to-morrow morning?" 


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*• Certainly not." 

^^ There is one thing to be said abont that, yoa see, by taking 
post-horses — Monsieur has his passport? " 


" Well, by taking post-horses, Monsieur cannot reach Arras 
before ta morrow. We are on a cross-road. Tlie relays are 
badly served, the horses are in the fields. The season for 
ploughing is just beginufng; heavy teams are required, and 
horses are seized upon everywhere, from the post as well as 
elsewhere. Monsieur will have to wait three or four hours at 
the least at every rela}*. And, then, they drive at a walk 
There are many hills to ascend." 

" Come then, I will go on horseback. Unharness the cabrio- 
lec. Some one can surely sell me a saddle in the neighborhood." 

'* Without doubt. But will this horse bear the saddle ? " 

" That is true ; you remind me of that ; he will not bear it.'' 

"Then — " 

" But I can surely hire a horse in the village?** 

"A horse to travel to Arras at one stretch?'* 


" That would require such a horse as does not exist in these 
parts. You would have to buy it to begin with, because no 
one knows you. But you will not find one for sale nor to let, 
for five hundred francs, or for a thousand." 

"What am I to do?" 

" The best thing is to let me repair the wheel like an honest 
man, and set out on your journey to-morrow." 

" To-morrow will be too late." 

"The deuce!" 

" la there not a mail«wagon which runs to An*as ? When 
will it pass?** 

"To-night. Both the posts pass at night; the one going 
as well as the one coming." 

" What ! It will take you a day to mend this wheel?'* 

" A day, and a good long one." 

" If you set two men to work?" 

" If I set ten men to work." 

"What if the spokes were to be tied together with ropes? " 

" That could be done with the spokes, not with the hub ; and 
the felly is in a bad state, too." 

•*Is there any one in this village who lets out teams? ** 


"Is there another wheelwright? " 

The stableman and the wheelwright replied in concert, witii a 
toss of the head : — 


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«* Nor 

He felt an immeiiBe Joy. 

[t was evident that Providence was intervening. *rhat it y 
il n\\o liad broken the wheel of tlie tilbury and who was stop* 
p\/ig him on the road. He had not yielded to this sort of first 
summons ; he had just made every possible effort to continue 
the journey ; he had loyally and scrupulously exhausted all 
means ; he had been deterred neither by the season, nor fatigue, 
nor by the expense ; he had nothing with which to reproach 
himself. If he went no further, that was no fault of his. It 
did not concern him further. It was no longer his fault. It 
was not the act of his own conscience, but the act of ProvidenoBc 

He breathed again. He breathed freely and to the full ex* 
tent of his lungs for the first time since Javert's visit. It 
seemed to him that the hand of iron which had held his heart in 
its grasp for the last twenty hours had just released him. 

It seemed to him that God was for him now, and was mani- 
festing Himself. 

He said himself that he had done all he could, and that now 
he had nothing to do but retrace his steps quietly. 

If his conversation with the wheelwright had taken place in a 
chamber of the inn, it would have had no witnesses, no one 
would have heard him, things would have rested there, and it la 
probable that we should not have had to relate any of the occur- 
rences which the reader is about to peruse ; but this conver- 
sation had taken place in the street. Any colloquy in the 
street inevitably attracts a crowd. There are always people 
who ask nothing better than to become spectators. While he 
was questioning the wheelwright, some people who were passing 
back and forth halted around them. After listening for a few 
minutes, a young lad, to whom no one had paid any heed, de- 
tached himself from the gi'oup and ran off. 

At the moment when the traveller, after the inward délibéra 
tion which we have just described, resolved to retrace his steps 
this child returned. He was accompanied by an old woman. 

'^Monsieur," said the woman, ^^ my boj^ tells me that yon 
wish to hire a cabriolet." 

These simple words uttered by an old woman led by a child 
made the perspiration trickle down his limbs. He thought Hiat 
he beheld the hand which liad relaxed its grasp reappear ixs 
the darkness behind him, ready to seize him once more. 

He answered : — 

" Yes. my good woman ; I am m search of a cabiiolet which 
I can hire." 

And he hastened to add t --^ 


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'« Bat there is none in the place.** 

** Certainly there is," said the old womaiL 

•* Where ? " interpolated the wheelwright* 

** At my house," replied the old woman. 

He shuddered. The fatal hand had grasped him again. 

The old woman really had in her shed a sort of basket springs 
.3irt. The wheelwright and the stable-man, in despair at the 
prospect of the traveller escaping their clutches, interfered. 

^^ It was a frightful old trap ; it rests flat on the axle ; i^ 
iS an actual fact that the seats were suspended inside it by 
leather thongs ; the rain came into it; the wheels were lusted 
and eaten with moisture ; it would not go much further than th^ 
tilbury- ; a regular ramshackle old stage- wagon ; the gentleman 
would make a great mistake if he trusted himself to it," etc., etc. 

All this was true ; but this trap, this ramshackle old vehicle, 
this thing, whatever ît was, ran on its two wheels and could go 
to Arras. 

He paid what was asked, left the tilbury with the wheelwright 
to be repaired, intending to reclaim it on his return, had the 
white horse put to the cart, climbed into it, and resumed the 
road which he had been ti-avelling since morning. 

At the moment when the cart moved off, he admitted that he 
had felt, a moment previously, a certain joy iu the thought that 
be should not go whither he was now proceeding. He ex- 
amined this joy with a sort of wrath, and found it absurd. Why 
should he feel joy at turuiug back? After all, he was taking 
this trip of his own free will. No one was forcing him to it. 

And assuredly nothing would happen except what he should 

As he left Hesdin, he heard a voice shouting to him : '^ Stop ! 
Stop ! " He halted the cart with a vigorous movement which 
contained a feverish and convulsive element resembling hope. 

It was the old woman's little boy. 

*^ Monsieur," said the latter, ^^ it was I who got the cart fo? 
" You have not given me anything.'* 

fie who gave to all so readily thought this demand exorbi- 
tant and almost odious. 

'*Ah! it's vou, you scamp?'* said he; "you shall have noth 

He whipped np his horse and set off at full speed. 

He had lost a great deal of time at Hesdin. He wanted to 
make it ^ood. The little norse was courageous, and pulled ioi 


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two ; but it was the month of February, there bad been rain 
the roads were bad. And then, it was no longer the tilbury. The 
cart was very lieuvy, and in addition, there were many ascents. 

He took nearly four hours to go from Ilesdin to Saint-Pol , 
four hours for five leagues. 

At 8aint-Pol he had the horse unharnessed at the first Inn he 
oame to and led to the stable ; as he had promised ScaufiQaire, 
he stood beside the manger while the horse was eating; he 
tihought of sad and confusing things. 

The inn-keeper's wife came to the stable. 

*' Does not Monsieur wish to breakfast?" 
. *'Come, that is true ; I even have a good appetite." 

He followed the woman, who had a rosy, cheerful face ; she 
led him to the public room where there were tables covered 
with waxed cloth. 

'^Make haste!" said he; ^'I must start again; I am in a 

A big Flemish servant-maid placed his knife and fork in all 
haste ; he looked at the girl with a sensation of comfort. 

'^That is what ailed me," he thought; ^^I had not break- 

His breakfast was served; he seized the bread, took a 
mouthful, and then slowly replaced it otî the table, and did not 
touch it again. 

A carter was eating at another table ; he said to this man : -* 

*' Why is their bread so bitter here?" 

The carter was a German and did not understand him. 

He returned to the stable and remained near the horse. 

An hour later he had quitted Saint-Pol and was directing 
his course towards Tinques, which is only five leagues from 

What did he do during this journey ? Of what was he think- 
ing? As in the morning, he watched the trees, the thatched 
roofs, the tilled fields pass by, and the way in which the land- 
scape, broken at every turn of the road, vanislicd ; this is a 
sort of contemplation which sometimes suffices to the soul, and 
almost relieves it from thought. What is more melancholy and 
more profound than to see a thousand objects for the first and 
tlie last time? To travel is to be born and to die at everj- in- 
stant ; perhaps, in the vaguest region of his mind, he did make 
comparisons between the shifting horizon and our human exist- 
ence : all the things of life are perpetually fleeing before as , 
tho dark and bright intervals are intermingled ; after a dazzling 
moment, an eclipse; we look, we hasten^ we stretch oat our 


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mods to grasp what is passing ; each event is a turn in the 
road, and, all at once, we arc old ; we feci a shock ; all is black , 
we distinguish an obscure door ; the gloomy horse of life, which 
has been drawing iis halts, and we see a veiled and unknown 
person unharnessing amid the shadows. 

Twilight was falling when the children who were coming out 
of school beheld this traveller enter Tinques ; it is true that 
the days were still short ; he did not halt at Tinques ; as he 
emerged from the village, a laborer, who 'vas mending the road 
with stones, raised his head and said to him : — 

" That horse is very much fatigued." 

The poor beast was, in fact, going at a walk. 

*' Are you going to Arras?" added the road-mender. 

" Yes." 

" If you go on at that rate, you will not arrive very early.'* 

He stoppa his horse, and asked the laborer : — 

** How far is it from here to Arras ? " 

*' Nearly seven good leagues." 

^' How is that? the posting guide only says five leagues and 
a quarter." 

'* Ah ! " returned the road-mender, " so you don't know that 
the road is under repair ? You will find it barred a quarter of an 
hour further on ; there is no way to proceed further." 

*' Really?" 

*' You will take the road on the left, leading to Carency ; you 
will cross the river; when you reach Camblin, you will turn to 
the right ; that is the road to Mont-SainVÉloy which leads to 

" But it is night, and I shall lose my way." 

** You do not belong in these parts ? " 


*^ And, besides, it is all cross-roads ; stop ! sir," resumed the 
road-mender ; " shall I give you a piece of advice? your horse 
is tired ; return to Tinques ; there is a good inn there ; sleep 
there; you can reach Arras to-morrow." 

** I must be there this evening." 

**That is different; but go to the inn all the same, and get 
an extra horse ; the stable-boy will guide 3'ou through the cross- 

He followed the road-mender's advice, retraced his steps, 
and, balf an hour later, he passed the same s|)ot again, but this 
time at full speed, with a good horse to aid ; a stable-boy, who 
called himself a ix>stiUon, was seated on the shaft of the cariole. 

Still, he felt that he had lost time. 


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Night had fully come. 

They turned into tlie cross-road ; the wa}* became frightf oil) 
bad ; the cart lurched from one rut to the other ; he said to the 
postilion : — 

" Keep at a trot, and you shall have a double fee." 

In one of the jolts, the whiffle-tree broke. 

"There's the whiffle-tree broken, sir,** said the postilion; 
■ ' I don't know how to harness my horse now ; this road is very 
oad at night ; if you wish to return and sleep at Tiuques, we 
could be hi Arras early to-morrow morning." 

He replied, " Have you a bit of rope and a knife?" 

''Yes, sir." 

He cut a branch from a tree and made a whiffletree of it. 

This caused another loss of twenty minutes ; but they set out 
again at a gallop. 

The plain was gloomy ; low-hanging, black, crisp fogs crept 
over the hills and wrenched themselves away like smoke : there 
were whitish gleams in the clouds ; a strong breeze which blew 
m from the sea pro<luced a sound in all quarters of the horizon, 
as of some one moving furniture ; everything that could be seen 
assumed attitudes of terror. How many tilings shiver beneath 
these vast breaths of the night ! 

He was stiff with cold ; he had eaten nothing since the night 
before ; he vaguely recîalled his other ncx^turnal trip in the vast 
plain in the neighborhood of D., eigiit years previously, and it 
seemed but yesterday. 

The hour struck from a distant tower ; he asked the boy : — 

"What time is it?" 

"Seven o'clock, sir; we shall reach Arras at eight; we have 
but three leagues still to go." 

At that moment, he for the first time indulged in this re- 
flection, thinking it odd the while that it had not occurred to 
him sooner: that all this trouble which he was taking was, 
perhaps, useless ; that he did not know so much as the hour of 
the trial; that he should, at least, have informed himself of 
that; that he was foolish to go thus straight ahead without 
knowing whether he would be of any service or not ; then he 
sketched out some calculations in his mind : that, ordinarily, 
the sittings of the Court of Assizes began at nine o'clock in 
the morning ; that it could not be a long affair ; that the theft 
of the apples would be very brief ; that there would then re- 
main only a question of identity, four or five depositions, and 
very little for the lawyers to say ; that he should arrive after aU 
was over. 


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FAN TINE. 239 

The postilion whipped up the horses ; they had crossed the 
river and left Mont-Sain t-Éloy behind them. 
The night grew more profound. 

VI. — Sister Simplice put to the Proof. 

BoT at that moment Fantine was jojous. 

8he had passed a very bad night; her cough was frightful; 
her fever had doubled in intensity ; she had had dreams : in the 
morning, when the doctor paid his visit, she was delirious ; he 
assumed an alarmed look, and ordered that he should be in- 
formed as soon as M. Madeleine arrived. 

AU the morning she was melancholy, said but little, and laid 
plaits in her sheets, murmuring the while, in a low voice, calcu- 
lations which seemed to be calculations of distances. Her eyes 
were hollow and staring. They seemed almost extinguished at 
intervals, then lighted up again and shone like stars. It seems 
as thoc^h, at the approach of a certain dark hour, the iight of 
heaven fills those who are quitting the light of earth. 

Each time that Sister Simplice asked her how she felt, she 
replied invariably, '* Well. I should like to see M. Madeleine." 

Some months before this, at the moment when Fantine had 
jast lost her last modesty, her last shame, and her last joy, she 
was the shadow of herself ; now she was the spectre of herself. 
Physical suffering had completed the work of moral suffering 
This creature of five and twenty had a wrinkled brow, flabbv 
cheeks, pinched nostrils, teeth from which the gums had re- 
ceded, a leaden complexion, a bony neck, prominent shoulder- 
blades, frail limbs, a clayey skin, and her golden hair wa» 
growing out sprinkled with gray. Alas ! how illness impro- 
vises old age! 

At mid-day the physician returned, gave some directions, in- 
qfuired whether the mayor had made his appearance at the 
infirmary, and shook his head. 

M. Madeleine usually came to see the invalid at three o'clock. 
As exactness is kindness, he was exact. 

About half-past two, Fantine began to be restless. In the 
course of twenty minutes, she asked the nun more than ten 
times, "What time is it, sister?" 

Three o'clock struck. At the third stroke, Fantine sat up in 
bed; she who could, in general, hardly turn over, joined her 
yellow, fleshless hands in a sort of convulsive clasp, and the 
nun heard her utter one of those profound sighs which seem 


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to throw off dejection. Then Fantiue turned and looked at the 

No one entered ; the door di(i not open. 

She reinaiued tlius for a quarter of an hour, her eyes riveted 
on the door, motionless and apparently holding her breath. 
The sister dared not speak to her. The clock struck a quarter 
past three. Fantine fell back on her pillow. 

She said nothing, but began to plait the sheets once more. 

Half an hour passed, then an hour, no one came ; every time 
the clock struck, Fantine started up and looked towards the 
door, then fell back again. 

Her thought was clearly perceptible, but she uttered no name, 
she made no complaint, she blamed no one. But she coughed 
in a melancholy way. One would have said that something 
dark was descending upon her. She was livid and her lips 
were blue. She smiled now and then. 

Five o'clock struck. Then the sister heard her say, very low 
and gently, ^^ He is wrong not to come to-day, since I am going 
away to-moiTow." 

Sister Simplice herself was surprised at M. Madeleine's delay. 

In the meantime, Fantine was staring at the tester of her 
bed. S lie seemed to be endeavoring to recall something. All 
at once she began to sing in a voice as feeble as a breath. The 
nun listened. This is what Fantine was singing : — 

" Lovely things we will buy 
As we stroll the faubourgs through. 
Roses are pink, corn-flowers are blue, 
I love my love, corn-flowers are blue. 

'' Yestere'en the Virgin Mary came near my stove, in abroid- 
erod mantle clad, and said to me, ^ Here, hide *neath my veil 
the child whom you one day begged from me. Haste to the 
city, buy linen, buy a needle, buy thread.* 

" Lovely things we will buy 
As we stroll the faubourgs through. 

"Dear Holy Virgin, beside my stove I have set a cradle with 
anbhons decked. God may give me his loveliest star ; I prefer 
the child thou hast granted me. ' Madame, what shall I do 
with this linen fine?' — ' Make of it clothes for thy new-born 

" Hoses are pink and corn-flowers are blue, 
I love my love, and corn-flowers are blue. 

" * Wash this linen.' — ' Where ? ' — 'In the stream. Make 
of it, soiling not, spoiling not, a petticoat fair with its bodies 


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FANTrNK 241 

fine, which I will embroider and fill with flowers.' — ^Madame, 
the child is no longer hero; what is to be done?' — ^Then make 
of it a winding-sheet in which to bury me.' 

■" Lovely things we will buy 
As we stroll the faubourgs through, 
Roses are pink, coni-flowers are blue, 
I love my love, coni-flowers are blue." 

This song was an old cradle romance with which she had, in 
/orraer days, lulled her little Cosette to sleep, and which bad 
never recurred to her mind in all the five years during which 
she luid l)een parted from her cUild. She sang it in so sad a 
voice, and to so sweet an air, tliat it was enough to make any 
one. even a nun, weep. The sister, accustomed as she was to 
austerities, felt a tear spring to her eyes. 

The clock struck six. Fantine did not seem to hear it. She 
Qo longer seemed to pay attention to anything about her. 

Sister Simplice sent a serving-maid to inquire of the portress 
ot the factory, whether the mayor had returned, and if he 
would not come to the infirmary soon. The girl returned in a 
few minutes. 

Fantine was still motionless and seemed absorbed in her own 

The servant informed Sister Simplice in a very low tone, that 
the mayor had set out that morning before six o'clock, in a 
little tilbury harnessed to a white horse, cold as the weather 
was ; that he had gone alone, without even a driver ; that no one 
knew what road he had taken ; that people said he had been 
seen to turn into tlie road to Arras ; that others asserted that 
they had met him on the road to Paris. That when he went 
away he had been very gentle, as usual, and tliat he had merel}' 
told the portress not to expect him that night. 

While the two women were whispering together, with their 
^aeks turned to Fantine's bed, the sister interrogating, the ser- 
vant conjecturing, Fantine, with the feverish vivacity of certain 
Jigaiiic maladies, which unite the free niovonients of health 
with the frightful emaciation of death, had raised luuself to her 
^nees in bed, with her shrivelled hands resting on the bolster, 
and her head thrust through the opening of the curtains, and 
was listening. All at once she cried : — 

" You are speaking of M. Madeline ! Why are you talking 
50 low? What is he doing? Wliy does he not come ? " 

Her voice was so abrupt and hoarse that the two women 
thought thcj heard the voice of a man ; thej' wheeled round in 


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" Answer me ! " cried Fantînç. 

The servant stammered : — 

" The portress told me that he could not come to-day/* 

*' Be calm, my child," said the sister ; *Mie down again." 

Fantine, without changii^ her attitude, continued in a lone 
voice, and with an accent that was both imperious and heart 
rending : — 

" He cannot come? Whs^ not? You know the reason. You 
are whispering it to each other there. I want to know it." 

The servant-maid hastened to say in the nun's ear, *' Say that 
he is busy with the city couneil." 

Sister Simplice bhished faintly, for it was a lie that the maid 
had proposed to her. 

On the other hand, it seemed to her that the mere com muni- 
cation of the truth to the invalid would, without doubt, deal her 
a terrible blow, and that this was a serious matter in Fantine'a 
present state. Her flush did not last long ; the sister raised her 
calm, sad eyes to Fantine, and said, ^^ Monster le Maire hai» 
gone away." 

Fantine raised herself and crouched on her heels in the bed ; 
her eyes sparkled ; indescribable joy beamed from that melan* 
*.holy face. 

*' Gone ! " she cried ; ''he has gone to get Cosette.** 

Then she raised her arms to heaven, and her white face be* 
rame ineffable ; her lips moved ; she was praying in a low 

When her prayer was finished, " Sister," she said, ** I am 
willing to lie down again ; I will do anything you wish ; I was 
naughty just now ; I beg your pardon for having spoken so 
loud ; it is very wrong to talk loudly ; I know that well, my 
good sister, but, you see, I am very happy : the good Go<l is 
good ; M. Madeleine is good ; just think ! he has gone to Mont- 
fermeil to get my little Cosette." 

She lay down again, with the nun's assistance, helped the 
nun to arrange her pillow, and kissed the little silver cross 
which she wore on her neck, and which Sister Simplice had 
given her. 

" My child," said the sister, '* try to rest now, and do not talk 
any more." 

Fantine took the sister's hand in her moist bands, and the 
latter was pained to feel that perspiration. 

" He set out this morning for Paris ; in fact, he need not 
even go through Paris ; Montfermeil is a little to the left as you 
come thence. Do you remember how he said to me yesterday. 


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when I spoke to him of Ck>sette, 8oon^ soonf He wants to 
give me a suiprise, 3'ou know ! be made me siga a letter so thai 
she coald be taken from the Thénardîers ; they cannot say any- 
thing, can they? they will give back Cosette, for they have 
been paid ; the authorities will not allow them to keep the child 
since they have received their pay. Do not make signs to me 
that I must not talk, sister ! I am extremely happy ; I am doing 
well ; I am not ill at all any more ; I am going to see Cosette 
again ; I am even quite hungry ; it is nearly five yeare since I 
8aw her last ; you cannot imagine how much attached one gets 
to children, and then, she will be so pretty ; you will see I If 
you only knew what pretty little rosy fingers she had! In 
the first place, she will have very beautiful hands; she had 
ridiculous hands when she was only a year old ; like this ! she 
mast be a big girl now ; she is seven years old ; she is quite a 
youDg lady ; I call her Cosette, but her name is really Euphrasie. 
Stop ! this morning I was looking at the dust on the chimney- 
piece, and I had a sort of idea come across me, like that, that 
I should see Cosette fCgain soon. Mon Dieu ! how wrong it is 
not to see one's children for years ! One ought to reflect that 
life is not eternal. Oh, how good M. le Maire is to go ! it is 
very cold ! it is true ; he had on his cloak, at least? he will be 
here to-moiTOw, will he not? to-morrow will be a festival day; 
to-morrow morning, sister, you must remind me to put on my 
little cap that has lace on it. What a place that Montf ermeil is ! 
I took that journey on foot once ; it was very long for me, but 
the diligences go very quickly ! he will be here to-morrow with 
Cosette : how far is it from here to Montf ermeil ? " 

The sister, who had no idea of distances, replied, '' Oh, J 
think that he will be here to-morrow." 

" To-morrow ! to-morrow ! " said Fantine, " I shall see Co* 
«ette to-morrow ! you see, good sister of the good God, that I 
im no longer ill ; I am mad ; I could dance if any one wished it." 

A person who had seen her a quarter of an hour previously 
would not have understood the change ; she was all rosy now : 
she spoke in a lively and natural voice ; her whole face was one 
smile; now and then she talked, she laughed softly; the joy 
of a mother is almost infantile. 

"Well," resumed the nun, " now that you are happy, mind 
me, and do not talk any more." 

Fantine laid her head on her pillow and said in a low voice : 
'* Yes, lie down again ; be good, for you are going to have youf 
c-hild; Sister Simplice is right; every otie here is right." 

And then, without stirring, without even moving her headi 


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Bhe began to stare all about her with wide-open eyes and a Joy 
ous air, and she said nothing more. 

The sister drew the curtains together again, hoping that she 
would fall into a doze. Between seven and eight o'clock the 
doctor came ; not hearing any sound, he thought Fantine was 
asleep, entered softly, and approached the bed on tiptoe; he 
opened the curtains a little, and, by the light of the taper, he 
saw Fantine's big eyes gazing at him. 

She said to him, '' She will be allowed to sleep beside me it 
a little bed, will she not, sir?" 

The doctor thought that she was delirious. She added : — 

" See ! there is just room.** 

The doctor took Sister Simplice aside, and she explained 
matters to him ; that M. Madeleine was absent for a day or 
two, and that in their doubt they had not thought it well to 
undeceive the invalid, who believed that the mayor had gone 
to Montfermeil ; that it was possible, after all, that her guess 
was correct : the doctor approved. 

He returned to Fantine's bed, and she went on : — 

" You see, when she wakes up in the morning, I shall be able 
to say good morning to her, poor kitten, and when I cannot 
sleep at night, I can hear her asleep ; her little gentle breathing 
will do me good." 

"Give me youi* hand," said the doctor. 

She stretched out her arm, and exclaimed with a laugh: — 

"Ah, hold! in truth, 3 ou did not know it; I am cured; 
Cosette will arrive to-morrow." 

The doctor was surprised; she was better; the pressure on 
her chest had decreased ; her pulse had regained its strength ; 
a sort of life had suddenly supervened and reanimated this 
poor, worn-out creature. 

" Doctor," she went on, "did the sister tell you that M. k 
Maire has gone to get that mite of a child?" 

The doctor recommended silence, and that all painful emo 
tions should be avoided ; he prescribed an infusion of pure chin 
chona, and, in case the fever should increase again during the 
night, a calming potion. As he took his departure, he said to 
the sister : — 

"She is doing better; if good luck willed that the mayor 
should actually arrive to-morrow with the child, who knows? 
there are crises so astounding ; great joy has been known to 
arrest maladies ; I know well that this is an organic disease, 
and in an advanced state, but all those things are such mya 
ieries : we may be able to save her.** 


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fU^ — Tte Tbatbixer on his Arrival takes Frbcao- 
noNs FOR Departure. 

It waA nearly eight o'clock in the evening when the cart. 
which we left on the road, entered the porte-coclièrc of ttie 
Hotel de la Poste in Arras ; the man whom we have been fol- 
lowing ap to this moment alighted from it, responded with an 
abstracted air to the attentions of the people of tlie inn, sent 
back the extra horse, and with his own hands led the little 
white horse to the stable ; then he opened the door of a billiard- 
room which was situated on the ground floor, sat down there, 
and leaned his elbows on a table ; he had taken fourteen hours 
for the journey which he had counted on making in six ; he did 
himself the justice to acknowledge that it was not his fault, but 
at bottom, he was not sorry. 

The landlady of the hotel entered. 

**Doe8 Monsieur wish a bed? Does Monsieur require sup- 

He made a sign of the head in the negative. 

*^The stableman says that Monsieur's horse is extremely 

Here he broke his silence. 

** Will not the horse be in a condition to set out i^ain to 
morrow morning?" 

^^Ohy Monsieur ! he must rest for two days at least*" 

He inquired: — 

**I8 not the posting-station located here?" 

"Yes, sir." 

The hostess conducted him to the office ; he showed his pass- 
port, and inquired whether there was any way of returning that 
same night to M. sur M. by the mail-wagon ; the scat beside 
the post-boy chanced to be vacant ; he engaged it and paid foi 
it. ** Monsieur," said the clerk, '' do not fail to be here ready 
t€ start H precisely one o'clock in the morning." 

This done, he left the hotel and began to wander about the 

He was not acquainted with Arras ; the streets were dark, and 
he walked on at random ; but he seemed bent upon not asking 
Ifae way of the passers-by. He crossed the little river Crinchon, 
and found himself in a labyrinth of narrow alleys where he lost 
his way. A citizen was passing: along with a lantern. Aftef 
tome hesitation, he decided to apply to this man, not without 


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having first glanced behind and in firont of him, as thoi^b he 
feared lest some one should hear the qncstion which he was 
about to put. 

'•Monsieur/* said he, "where is the court-liouse, if yoa 

*'You do not belong in town, sir?" replied the bourgeois, 
who was an oldish man; ''well, follow me. I happen to be 
going in the direction of the court-house, that is to say, in the 
direction of the hotel of the prefecture ; for the court-house is 
undergoing repairs just at this moment, and the courts are hold- 
ing tlieir sittings provisionally in the prefecture." 

" Is it there that the Assizes are held? " he asked. 

"Certainly, sir; you see, the prefecture of to-day was the 
bishop's palace before the Revolution. M. de Conzié, who 
was bishop in '82, built a grand hall there. It is in this grand 
ball that the court is held.*' 

On the way, the bourgeois said to him : — 

" If Monsieur desires to witness a case, it is rather late. 
The sittings generally close at six o'clock." 

When they arrived on the grand square, however, the man 
pointed out to him four long windows all lighted up, in the 
front of a vast and gloomy building. 

" Upon my word, sir, you are in luck ; you have arrived in 
season. Do you see those four windows? That is the Court 
of Assizes. There is light there, so they are not through. The 
matter must have been greatly protracted, and they are holding 
an evening session. Do you take an interest in this affair? Is 
it a criminal case? Are you a witness?" 

He replied : — 

" I have not come on any business ; I only wish to speak to 
one of the law3*ers." 

" That is different," said the bourgeois. " Stop, sir; here is 
the door wliere the sentry stands. You have only to ascend 
the grand staircase." 

He conformed to the bourgeois's directions, and a few minutes 
later he was in a hall containing many people, and wlicre groups, 
intermingled with lawyers in their gowns, were whispering to- 
gether here and there. 

It is always a heart-breaking thing to see these congregations 
of men robed in black, murmuring t<^ether in low voices, on 
the threshold of the halls of justice. It is rare that charity and 
pity are the outcome of these words. Condemnations* pro- 
nounced in advance are more likely to be the result. All these 
groups seem to the passing and thoughtful observer so manj 


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lombre bives where buzzing spirits construct in concert aS 
Borts of dark edifices. 

This spacious hall, illuminated by a single lamp, was the old 
hall of the episcopal palace, and served as the lai^e hall of the 
palace of justice. A double-leaved door, which was closed at 
that moment, separated it from the large apartment where the 
court was sitting. 

The obscurity was such that he did not fear to accost the 
first lawyer whom he met. 

*^ What stage have they reached, sir?*' he asked. 

^^ It is finished," said tibe lawver. 


This word was repeated in such accents that the lawyer tamed 

" Excuse me, sir ; perhaps you are a relative? " 

"No; I know no one here. Has judgment b^n pro- 

" Of coarse. Nothing else was possible.'' 

** To penal servitude ? " 

"For life." 

He continued, in a voice so weak that it wag barely audi- 
ble; - 

" Then his identity was established? " 

"What identity?" replied the lawyer. ** There was no 
identity to be established. The matter was very simple. The 
woman had murdered her child ; the infanticide was proved ; the 
jury threw out the question of premeditation, and she was con- 
demned for life." 

" So it was a woman? " said he. 

" Why, certainly. The limosin woman. Of what are yon 

"Notiiing. But since it is all over, how comes it that the 
baU is still lighted?" 

" For another case, which was begun about two hours ago." 

"What other case?" 

" Oh ! this one is a clear case also. It is about a sort of 
blackguard ; a man arrested for a second ofifencc ; a convict 
who has been guilty of theft. I don't know his name exactly. 
There's a bandit* s phiz for you ! I'd send him to the galleys 
on the strength of his face alone." 

"Is there any way of getting into the court-room, sir?" 
Baid he. 

" I reality think that there is not. There is a great crowd. 
However, the hearing has been suspended. Some people hav^ 


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gone out, and when the hearing is resumed, you might mak« 

an effort." 

'* Where is the entrance?" 

" Through yonder large door." 

The lawyer left him. In the course of a few moments he 
had experienced, almost simultaneously, almost intermingled 
with each other, all possible emotions. The words of this in- 
different spectator had, in turn, pierced his heart like needles of 
ice and liko blades of fire. When he saw that nothing was 
settled, he breathed freely once more ; but he could not ha?e 
told whether what he felt was pain or pleasure. 

He drew near to many groups and listened to what they were 
saying. The docket of the session was very heavy ; the presi- 
dent had appointed for tlie same day two short and simple cases. 
They had begun with the infanticide, and now they had reached 
the coqvict, the old offender, the " return horse." This man 
had stolen apples, but that did not appear to be entirely proved ; 
what had been proved was, that he had already been in the 
galleys at Toulon. It was that which lent a bad aspect to his 
case. However, the man's examination and the de[X>sitions of 
the witnesses had been completed, but the lawyer's plea, and 
the speech of the public prosecutor were still to come ; it could 
not be finished before midnight. The man would probably be 
condemned ; the attorney- general was very clever, and never 
missed tiis culprits ; he was a brilliant fellow who wrote verses. 

An usher stood at the door communicating with the ball of 
the Assizes. He inquired of this usher : — 

" Will the door be opened soon, sir? " 

" It will not be opened at all," replied the usher. 

" What I It will not be opened when the hearing is resumed? 
Is not the hearing suspended ? " 

'* The hearing has just been begun again," replied the usher, 
*' but the door will not be opened again." 


" Because the hall is full." 

*' What ! There is not room for one more? " 

*^ Not another one. The door is closed. No one can enter 

The usher added after a pause: "There are, to tell the 
truth, two or three extra places behind Monsieur le Président, 
but Monsieur le Président only admits public functionaries to 

So saying, the usher turned his back. 

He retired with bowed head, traversed the antechamber, and 


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JtfANTlNE 249 

slowly descended the stairs, as though hesitating at every step. 
It is probable that he was holding counsel with himself. The 
violent conflict which had been going on within him since the 
preceding evening was not yet ended ; and every moment he 
«Dcoantered some new phase of it. On reaching the landing- 
place, he leaned his back against the balusters and folded his 
arms. All at once he opened his coat, drew out his pocket* 
book, took from it a pencil, tore out a leaf, and upon that leaf 
he wrote rapidly, by the light of the street lantern this line : 
M, Madeleine^ Mayor of M. sur M,; then he ascended the 
stairs once more with great strides, made his way through the 
erowd, walked straight up to the usher, handed him the paper, 
and said in an authoritative manner : — 

" Take this to Monsieur le Président.** 

The usher took the paper, cast a glance upon it, and obeyed. 

Vni. — An Entrance by Favor. 

Although he did not suspect the fact, the mayor of M. sur 
M. enjoyed a sort of celebrity. For the space of seven years 
his reputation for virtue had filled the whole of Bas Boulonnais ; 
it had eventually passed the confines of a small district and had 
been spread abroad through two or three neighboring depart- 
ments. Besides the service which he had rendered to the chief 
town b}' resuscitating the black jet industry, there was not one 
out of the hundred and forty communes of the arrondissenient 
of M. sur M. which was not indebted to him for some benefit. 
Ho had even at need contrived to aid and multiply the indus- 
tries of other arrondissements. It was thus that he had, when 
occasion offered, supported with his credit and his funds the 
Unen factory at Boulogne, the flax-spinning industry at Fré- 
vent, and the hydraulic manufacture of cloth at Boubers-sur- 
Canche. Everywhere the name of M. Madeleine was pro- 
nounced with veneration. Arras and Douai envied the happy 
little town of M. sur M. its mayor. 

The Councillor of the Royal Court of Douai, who was presid 
log over this session of the Assizes at Arras, was acquainted . 
in c*ommon with the rest of the world, with this name which waj 
so profoundly and universally honored. When the usher, dis- 
creetly opening the door which connected the council-chamber 
with the court-room, bent over the back of the .Pi-esident's arm- 
chair and handed him the paper on which was inscribed the line 
which we have just perased, adding : ^' The genUeman desires to 


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be present at the trioU^'* the PreBident, with a quick and defer 
ential movemeDt, seized a pen and wrote a few words at th« 
bottom of the paper and returned it to the usher, saying, ^^Ad- 
mit him." 

The unhappy man whose history we are relating had re- 
mained near the door of the hall, in the same place and the 
same attitude in which the usher had left him. In the midst of 
his revery he heard some one saying to him, "Will Monsieur 
do me the honor to follow me?" It was the same usher who had 
turned his back upon him but a moment previousU', and who 
was now bowing to the earth before him. At the same time, 
the usher handed him the paper. He unfolded it, and as he 
chanced to be near the light, he could read it. 

'' The President of the Court of Assizes presents his respects 
to M. Madeleine." 

He crushed the paper in his hand as though those words con* 
tained for him a strange and bitter aftertaste. 

He followed the usher. 

A few minutes later he found himself alone in a sort of wain* 
Bcoted cabinet of severe aspect, lighted by two wax candles, 
placed upon -a table with a green cloth. The last words of the 
usher who had just quitted him still rang in his ears: ^^ Mon- 
sieur, you are now in the council -chamber ; you have only to 
turn the copper handle of yonder door, and you will find your- 
self in the court-room, behind the President's chair." These 
words were mingled in his thoughts witli a vague memory of 
naiTOw corridors and dark staircases which he had recently 

The usher had left him alone. The supreme moment had 
arrived. He sought to collect his faculties, but could not. It 
is chiefly at the moment when there is the greatest need for at- 
taching them to the painful realities of life, that the threads of 
thought snap within the brain. He was in the very place where 
the judges deliberated and condemned. With stupid tranquillitv 
he surveyed this peaceful and terrible apartment, where bo 
many lives had been broken, which was soon to nng with hia 
name, and which his fate was at that moment traversing. He 
stared at the wall, then he looked at himself, wondering that it 
ohould be that chamber and that it should be he. 

He had eaten nothing for four and twenty hours; he whs 
worn out by the jolts of the cart, but he was not conscious of it. 
It seemed to him that he felt nothing. 

He at)proached a black frame which was suspended on the 
wall, and which contained, under glass, an ancient autogrmpli 


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letter of Jean Nicolas Pache, maj-or of Paris and minister, and 
dated, through an error, no doubt, the dth of June^ of the year 
II., and in which Pache forwarded to the commune the list of 
ministers and deputies held in arrest by them. Any spectator 
who had chanced to see him at that moment, and who had 
watched him, would have imagined, doubtless, that this letter 
âtruck him as vei'y curious, for he did not take his eyes from it, 
and he read it two or three times. He read it without paying 
^y attention to it, and unconsciously. He was thinking of 
Fantine and Cosette. 

As he dreamed, he turned round, and his eyes fell upon the 
brass knob of the door which separated him from the Court of 
Assizes. He had almost forgotten that door. His glance, 
calm at first, paused there, remained fixed on that brass handle, 
then grew terrified, and little by little became impregnated with 
fear. Beads of perspiration burst forth among his hair and 
trickled down upon his temples. 

At a certain moment he made that indescribable gesture of a 
sort of authority mingled with rebellion, which is intended to 
convey, and which does so well convey, " Fardieu! who com- 
pels we to this?** Then he wheeled briskly round, caught sight 
of the door through which he had entered in front of him, went 
to it, opened it, and passed out. He was no longer in that 
chamber ; he was outside in a corridor, a long, narrow corridor, 
broken by steps and gratings, making all sorts of angles, lighted 
here and there by lanterns similar to the niglit taper of invalids, 
the corridor through which he had approached. He breathed, 
he listened ; not a sound in front, not a sound behind him, and 
he fled as though pursued. 

When he had turned many angles in this corridor, he still 
listened. The same silence reigned, and there was the same 
darkness around him. He was out of breath ; he staggered ; 
be leaned against the wall. The stone was cold ; the perspira- 
tion lay ice-cold on his brow ; he straightened himself up with a 

Then, there alone in the darkness, trembling with cold and 
with something else, too, perchance, he meditated. 

He had meditated all night long ; he had meditated all the 
day: he heai*d within him but one voice, which said, *' Alas ! " 

A quarter of an hour passed thus. At length he bowed his 
head, sighed with agony, dropped his arms, and retraced his 
steps. He walked slowly, and as though crushed. It seemed 
as though some one had overtaken him in his flight and was 
leading him back. 


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He re-entered the council-chamber. The first thing h« 
caught sight of was the knob of the door. Tliis knob, whidi 
was round and of polished brass, shone like a terrible star for 
him. He gazed at it as a lamb might gaze into the eye of a 

He could not take his eyes from it. From time to time he 
advanced a step and approached the door. 

Had he listened, he would have heard the sound of the adjoin- 
ing hall like a sort of confused murmur \ but he did not listen, 
and he did not hear. 

Suddenly, without himself knowing how it happened, ha 
found himself near the door ; he grasped the knob convulsively ; 
the door opened. 

He was in the court-room. 

IX. — A Place where Contictions abe in Pbocess op For- 

He advanced a pace, closed the door mechanically l)ehind 
him, and remained standing, contemplating what he saw. 

It was a vast and badly lighted apartment, now full of up- 
roar, now full of silence, where all the apparatus of a criminal 
case, with its petty and mournful gravity in the midst of the 
throng, was in process of development. 

At the one end of the hall, the one where he was, were 
judges, with abstracted air, in threadbare robes, who were gnaw- 
ing their nails or closing their eyelids; at the other end, a 
ragged crowd ; lawyers in all sorts of attitudes ; soldiers with 
hard but honest faces ; ancient, spotted woodwork, a dirty ceil- 
ing, tables covered with serge that was yellow rather than green ; 
doors blackened by handmarks ; tap-room lamps which emitted 
more smoke than light, suspended from nails in the wainscot ; 
on the tables candles in brass candlesticks ; darkness, ugliness, 
sadness ; and from all this there was disengaged an austere 
and august impression, for one there felt that grand hnisan 
thing which is called the law, and that grand divine thing which 
is called justice. 

No one in all that throng paid any attention to him ; all 
glances were directed towards a single point, a wooden bench 
placed against a small door, in the stretch of wall on the Presi- 
dent's left ; on this bench, illuminated by several candles, sat r 
man between two gendarmes. 

This man was the man. 


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He did not seek bim ; he saw him ; his eyes went thither 
latHrally, as though they had known beforehand where that fig- 
ure was. 

He thought he was looking at himself, grown old ; not abso- 
Ijtely the same in face, of course, but exactly similar in atti- 
tude and aspect, with his bristling hair, with that wild and un- 
easy eye, with that blouse, just as it was on the 'day when he 
entered £>., full of hatred, concealing his soul in that hideous 
mass of frightful thoughts which he had spent nineteen years 
in collecting on the floor of the prison. 

He said to himself with a shudder, *' Good God ! shall I be- 
come like that again ? " 

This creature seemed to be at least sixty ; there was some- 
thing indescribably coarse, stupid, and frightened about him. 

At the sound made by the opening door, people had drawn 
t^ide to make way for him ; the President had turned his head, 
i.nd, understanding that the personage who had just entered 
was the mayor of M. sur M., he had bowed to him ; the attor- 
ney-general, who had seen M. Madeleine at M. sur M., whither 
the duties of his office had called him more tlian once, recog- 
nized him and saluted him also : he had hardly perceived it ; he 
was the victim of a sort of hallucination ; he was watching. 

Judges, clerks, gendarmes, a throng of cruelly curious heads, 
ull these he had already beheld once, in days gone by, twenty- 
i«ven years before ; he had encountered those fatal things once 
more ; there thej' were ; they moved ; they existed ; it was no 
longer an effort of his memory, a mirage of his thought ; they 
were real gendarmes and real judges, a real crowd, and reai 
men of flesh and blood : it was all over ; he beheld the mon- 
strous aspects of his past reappear and live once more around 
him, with all that there is formidable in reality. 

All this was yawning before him. 

He was hon-ified by it ; he shut his eyes, and exclaimed in 
he deepest recesses of his soul, " Never ! " 

And by a tragic play of destiny which made all his ideas 
tremble, and rendered him nearly mad, it was another self of 
his that was there ! all called that man who was being tried 
Jean Valjean. 

Under his very eyes, unheard-of vision, he had a sort of rep- 
ipsentation of the most horrible moment of his life, enacted by 
his spectre. 

Everything was there ; the apparatus was the same, the hour 
of the night, the faces of the judges, of soldiers, and of spec- 
tators ; all were the same, only above the President's head there 


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hung a crucifix, something which the courts had lacked at th^ 
time of his condemnation : God had been absent when he had 
been judged. 

There was a chair behind him ; he dropped into it, terrified 
at the thought that he might be seen ; when he was seated, he 
took advantage of a pile of cardboaid boxes, which stood on 
the judge's desk, to conceal his face from the whole room ; he 
could now see without being seen ; he had fully regained con- 
sciousness of the reality of things ; gradually he recovered ; he 
attained that phase of composure where it is possible to listen. 

M. Bamatabois was one of the jurors. 

He looked for Javert, but did not see him ; the seat of the 
witnesses was hidden from him by the clerk's table, and then, 
as we have just said, the hall was sparely lighted. 

At the moment of this entrance, the defendant's lawyer had 
just finished his plea. 

The attention of all was excited to the highest pitch ; the 
affair had lasted for three hours : for three hours that crowd 
had been watching a strange man, a miserable specimen of 
humanity, either profoundly stupid or profoundly subtle, grad- 
ually bending beneath the weiglit of a terrible likeness. This 
man, as the reader already knows, was a vagal)ond who had 
been found in a field carrying a branch laden with ripe apples, 
broken in the orchard of a neighbor, called the Pierron orchard. 
Who was this man ? an examination had been made ; witnesses 
had been heard, and they were unanimous ; light had abounded 
throughout the entire debate ; the accusation said : " We have 
in our grasp not only a marauder, a stealer of fruit ; we have 
here, in our hands, a bandit, an old offender who has broken 
his ban, an ex-convict, a miscreant of the most dangerous de- 
scription, a malefactor named Jean Val jean, whom justice has 
long been in search of, and who, eight yeara ago, on emerging 
from the galleys at Toulon, committed a highway robbery, ac- 
companied by violence, on the person of a child, a Savoy ai-d 
named Little Gervais ; a crime provided for by article 383 of 
the Penal Code, the right to try him for which we reserve here- 
after, when his identity shall have been judicially established. 
He has just committed a fresli theft ; it is a case of a second 
offence ; condemn him for the fresh deed ; later on he will be 
judged for the old crime." In the face of this accusation, in 
the face of the unanimity of the witnesses, the accused appeared 
to be astonished more than anything else ; he made signs ami 
gestures which were meant to convey No, or else he stai'^d at 
Uie ceiling : he spoke with difificulty, replied with embarrassment. 


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FA NT I NE. 25a 

0ut his whole person, from head to foot, was a denial ; he was an 
idiot in the presence of all these minds ranged in order of bat- 
tle around him, and like a stranger in the midst of this societj^ 
which was seizing fast upon him ; nevertheless, it was a ques- 
tion of the most menacing future for him ; the likeness increased 
every moment, and the entire crowd surveyed, with more anx- 
iety than he did himself, that sentence freighted with calamity, 
which descended ever closer over his head ; there was even a 
glimpse of a possibility afforded ; besides the galleys, a possi- 
ble death penal t}', in case his identity were established, and the 
affair of Little Gervais were to end thereafter in condemnation. 
Who was this man? what was the nature of his apathy? was 
it imbecility or craft? Did he understand too well, or did he 
not anderstand at all? these were questions which divided. the 
crowd, and seemed to divide the jury ; there was something 
both terrible and puzzling in this case : the drama was not only 
melancholy ; it was also ol)scure. 

The counsel for the defence had spoken tolerably well, in that 
provincial tongue which has long constituted the eloquence of 
the bar, and which was formerly employed by all advocates, at 
Paris as well as at Romorantin or at Montbrison, and which to- 
day, having become classic, is no longer spoken except by the 
official orators of magistracy, to whom it is suited on account 
of its grave sonorousness and its majestic stride ; a tongue in 
which a husband is called a consort^ and a woman a spouse; 
Paris, t?ie centre of art and civllizaJtion; the king, the monarch; 
Monseigneur the Bishop, a sainted pontiff; the district-attorney, 
the eloquent interpreter of public prosecution; the arguments, 
thje accents which we have just listened to; the age of Louis 
XIV., t?ie grand age ; a theatre, the temple of Melpomeiie ; the 
reigning family, the august blood of our kings; a concert, a 
musical solemnity; the General Commandant of the province, 
the illustrious warrior^ who, etc.; the pupils in the seminary, 
these tender lévites; errors imputed to newspapers, the impos 
ture which distills its venom through the columns of those organs; 
etc. The lawyer had, accordingly, begun with an explanation 
as to the theft of the apples, — an awkward matter couched in 
fine style ; but Bénigne Bossuct himself was obliged to allude 
to a chicken in the midst of a funeral oration, and he extricated 
himself from the situation in stately fashion. The lawyer es- 
tablished the fact that the theft of the apples had not been cir- 
cumstantially proved. His client, whom he, in his character of 
counsel, persisted in calling Champmathieu, had not been seen 
sealing that wall nor breaking that branch by any one. He 


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256 t.ES AflSERABLES. 

bad been taken with that branch (whioh the lawyer preferred ta 
call a bough) in his possession ; but he said that he had found 
it broken off and lying on the ground, and had picked it up. 
Where was there any proof to the contrary ? No doubt that 
branch had been broken off and concealed after the scaling of the 
wall, then thrown away by the alarmed marauder; there was 
SÏO doubt that there had been a thief in the case. But what 
«oroof was there that that thief had been Champmathieu ? Ono. 
thing only. His character as an ex-convict. Tlie lawyer did 
not deny that that character appeared to be, nnhappily, well 
attested; the accused had resided at Faverolles; the accused 
Sad exercised the calling of a tree-pruner there ; the name of 
Champmathieu might well have had its origin in Jean Mathieu ; 
*ll that was true, — in short, four witnesses recognize Champ* 
raathieu, positively and without hesitation, as that convict, 
Jean Val jean ; to these signs, to this testimony, the counsel 
could oppose nothing but the denial of his client, the denial of 
an interested party; but supposing that he was the convict 
Jean Valjean, did that prove that he was the thief of the apples ; 
that was a presumption at the most, not a proof. The prisoner, 
it was true, and his counsel, ''in good faith," was obliged tf 
admit it, had adopted '' a bad system of defence." He obsti 
nately denied everything, the theft and his character of con- 
vict. An admission upon this last [X)int would certainly havo 
been better, and would have won for him the indulgence of his 
judges ; the counsel had advised him to do this ; but the accused 
had obstinately refused, thinking, no doubt, that he would save 
everything by admitting nothing. It was an error ; but ought 
not the paucity of this intelligence to be taken into considera- 
tion ? This man was visibly stupid. Long-continued wretched- 
ness in the galleys, long misery outside the galleys, had brutalized 
him, etc. He defended himself badly ; was that a reason for 
condemning him? As for the affair with Little Gervais, the 
counsel need not discuss it; it did not enter into the ease. 
The lawyer wound up by beseeching the jury and the court, if 
the identity of Jean Valjean appeared to them to be evident, 
to apply to him the police penalties which are provided for a 
criminal who has broken his ban, and not the frightful chastise- 
ment which descends upon the convict guilty of a second offence. 

The district-attorney answered tlie counsel for the defence. 
He was violent and florid, as district-attorneys usually are. 

He congratulated the counsel for the defence on his " loyalty, *• 
and skilfully took advantage of this loyalty. He reached th« 
•ceased through all the concessions made by his lawyer. The 


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advocate had Beemod t<> admit that the prisoner was Jean Val 
jean. He took note of this. So this man ^as Jean Vaijean. 
This point had been conceded to the accusation and could no 
.oiiger be disputed. Here, by means of a clever autcmoraasia 
which went bacic to the sources and causes of crime, the dis- 
trict-attorney thundered against the immorality of the romantic 
school, then dawning under the name of the Satanic school^ 
which had been bestowed upon it by the critics of the Quotidienne 
and the Oriflamme; he attributed, not without some probability, 
to the influence of this perverse literature the crime of Champ- 
mathieu, or rather, to speak more correctly, of Jean Vaijean. 
Having exhausted these considerations, he passed on to Jean Vai- 
jean himself. Who was this Jean Vaijean ? Description of Jean 
Vaijean : a monster spewed forth, etc. The model for this sort 
of description is contained in the tale of Théramène, which is not 
useful to tragedy, but which every day renders great services to 
judicial eloquence. The audience and the jury '' shuddered." 
The description finished, the district-attorney resumed with an 
aratorical turn calculated to raise the enthusiasm of the journal 
of the prefecture to the highest pitch on the following day : And it 
is such a man, etc., etc., etc., vagabond, beggar, without means 
of existence, etc., etc., inured by his past life to culpable deeds, 
and but little reformed by his sojourn in the galleys, as was 
proved by the crime committed against Little Ger\'ais, etc., etc. ; 
it is such a man, caught upon the highway in the very act of 
theft, a few paces from a wall that had been scaled, still 
holding in his hand the object stolen, who denies the crime, the 
theft, the climbing the wall ; denies everything ; denies even his 
own identity ! In addition to a hundred other proofs, to which 
we will not recur, four witnesses recognize him — Javeit, the 
upright inspector of police ; Javert, and' three of his former 
companions in infamy, the convicts Brevet, Chenildieu, and 
Cochepaille. What does he offer in opposition to this over- 
whelming unanimit}* ? His denial. What obduracy ! You 
will do justice, gentlemen of the jurj-, etc., etc. While the 
district-attorney was speaking, the accused listened to him 
open-mouthed, with a sort of amazement in which some admira- 
tion was assuredly blended. He was evidently surprised that a 
man could talk like that. From time to time, at those ^^ ener- 
getic" moments of the prosecutor's speech, when eloquence 
which cannot contain itself overflows in a flood of withering 
epithets and envelops the accused like a storm, he moved his 
head slowly from right to left and from left to right in the sort 
of mute and melancholy protest with which he had contented 


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himself since the beginning of the argument. Two or three 
times the spectators who were nearest to him heard him say iu 
a low voice, '' That is what comes of not having asked M. 
Baloup." The district- attorney directed the attention of the 
jury .to this stupid attitude, evidently deliberate, which denoted 
not imbecility, but craft, skill, a habit of deceiving justice, and 
which set fortli in all its nakedness the " profound perversity" 
of this man. He ended by making his reserves on the afifair of 
Little Gervais and demanding a severe sentence. 

At that timc^ as the reader will remember, it was penal servi- 
tude for life. 

The counsel for the defence rose, began b}^ complimenting 
Monsieur TAvocat-General on his " admirable speech," then 
replied as best he could ; but he weakened ; the ground was 
evidently slipping away from under his feet. 

X. — The System of Denials. 

The moment for closing the debate had arrived. The Presi- 
dent had the accused stand up, and addressed to him the cus- 
tomary question, '' Have you anytbing to add to 3'our defence?" 

The man did not appear to understand, as he stood there, 
twisting in his hands a temble cap which he had. 

The President repeated the question. 

This time the man heard it. He seemed to understand. He 
made a motion like a man who is just waking up, cast his eyes 
about him, stared at the audience, the gendarmes, his counsel, 
the jur}', the court, laid his monstrous fist on the rim of wood- 
work in front of his bench, took another look, and all at once, 
fixing his glance uix)ii the district-attorney, he began to speak. 
It was like an eruption. It seemed, from the manner in which 
the words escaped from his mouth, — incoherent, impetuous, 
pell-mell, tumbling over each other, — as though they were al! 
pressing forward to issue forth at once. He said : — 

''This is what I have to say. That I have been a wheel- 
wright in Paris, and that it was with Monsieur Baloup. It is 
a hard trade. In the wheelwright's trade one works always in 
the open air, in courtyards, under sheds when the masters are 
good, never in closed workshops, because space is i-equired, you 
Bee. In winter one gets so cold that one beats one's anna 
together to warm one's self; but the masters don't like it ; they 
say it wastes time. Handling iron when there is ice between 
the paving-stones is hard work. That wears a man out quickly 


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One is old while he is still quite young in that trade. At forty 
a man is done for. I was fifty -three. I was in a bad state. And 
then, workmen are so mean ! When a man is no longer young, 
they call him nothing but old bird, old beast ! I was not earning 
more than thirty sous a day. The}* paid me as little as possi- 
ble. The masters took advantage of my age — and then I had 
my daughter, who was a laundress at the river. She earned a 
little, also. It sufficed for us two. She had trouble, also ; all 
day long up to her waist in a tub, in rain, in snow. When the 
wind cuts your face, when it freezes, it is all the same ; you must 
Btill wash. There are people who have not much linen, and 
wait until late ; if j'ou do not wash, you lose your custom. Tii« 
planks are badly joined, and water drops on you from every* 
where; you have your petticoats all damp above and below. 
That penetrates. She has also worked at the laundry of the 
Eu fan ts- Rouges, where the water comes through faucets. You 
are not in the tub there ; you wash at the faucet in front of 
you, and rinse in a basin behind you. As it is enclosed, you 
are not so cold ; but there is that hot steam, which is terrible, 
and which ruins your eyes. She came houie at seven o'clock in 
the evening, and went to bed at once, she was so tired. Her 
husband beat her. She is dead. We have not been very happy. 
She was a good girl, who did not go to the ball, and who was 
very peaceable. I remember one Shrove-Tuesday when she 
went to bed at eight o'clock. There, I am telling the truth ; 
yoii have only to ask. Ah, yes ! how stupid I am ! Paris is a 
gulf. Who knows Father Champmathieu there ? But M. Baloup 
does, I tell yow. Go see at M. Baloup's ; and after all, I don't 
know what is wanted of me." 

The man ceased speaking, and remained standing. He had 
said these things in a loud, rapid, hoarse voice, with a sort of 
irritated and savage ingenuousness. Once he paused to s«lule 
some one in the crowd. The sort of affirmations which he 
%emed to fling out before him at random came like hiccoughs, 
ind to each he added the gesture of a wood-cutter who is split- 
ting wood. When he had finished, the audience burst into c 
laugh. He stared at the public, and, perceiving that they were 
laughing, and not understanding why, he began to laugh himself. 

It was inauspicious. 

The President, an attentive and benevolent man, raised his 

He reminded "the gentlemen of the jury" that "the sieur 
Baloap, formerly a master- wheelwright, with whom the accused 
stated that he had served, had been summoned in vain. He 


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/lad become bankrupt, and was not to be foand." Then tarn 
iiig to the accused, he enjoined him to listen to what he was 
about to say, and added : ^^ You are in a position where reflec- 
tion is necessary. The gravest presumptions rest upon vou, and 
may induce vital results. Prisoner, in your own interests, I 
summon you for the last time to explain yourself clearly on two 
points. In the first place, did you or did you not climb the wall 
of the Pierron orchard, break the branch, and steal the a])ples ; 
that is to say, commit the crime of breaking in and theft? In 
the second place, are you the discharged convict, Jean Valjean 
— yes or no?" 

The prisoner shook his head with a capable air, like a man 
who has thoroughly understood, and who knows what answer 
he is going to make. He opened his mouth, turned towards 
the President, and said : — 

'*In the first place — " 

Then he stared at his cap, stared at the ceiling, and held hm 

" Prisoner," said the district-attorney, in a severe voice, 
^' pay attention. You are not answering anything that ha 4 
been asked of you. Your embarrassment condemns you. It 
is evident that your name is not Champmathieu ; that you ai<% 
the convict, Jean Valjean, concealed firet under the name cf 
Jean Mathieu, which was the name of his mother; that yon 
went to Auvergne ; that you were born at Faverolles, where you 
were a pruner of trees. It is evident that 30U have been guilty 
of entering, and of the theft of ripe apples from the Pierrou 
orchard. The gentlemen of tlie jury will form their ow\i 

The prisoner had finally resumed his seat ; he arose abruptly 
when the district-attorney had finished, and exclaimed ; — 

*' You are very wicked ; that you are ! This is what I wanted 
to say ; I could not find words for it at first. I have stolen 
nothing. I am a man who does not have something to eat 
every day. I was coming from Ailly ; I was walking through 
ihe country after a shower, which had made the whole country 
yellow : even the ponds were overfiowed, and nothing sprang 
from the sand any more but the little blades of grass at the 
wayside. I found a broken branch with apples on the ground ; 
I picked up the branch without knowing that it would get me 
into trouble. I have been in prison, and they have been drag- 
ging me about for the last three months ; more than that I can- 
not say; people talk against me, they tell me, * Answer !' 
The gendarme, who is a good fellow, nudges my elbow, and 


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iays to me in a low voice, * Come, answer I ' I don't know how 
to ejsplain ; I have no education ; I am a poor man ; that is 
where thej wrong me, because they do not see this. I have not 
stolen; I picked up from the ground things that were lying 
there. You say, Jean Valjean, Jean Mathieu ! I don't know 
those persons ; they are villagers. I worked for M. Baloup, 
Boulevard de l'Hôpital ; my name is Champmathieu. You are 
very clever to tell me where I was born ; I don't know myself : 
it's not everybody who has a house in which to come into the 
world ; that would be too convenient. I think that my father 
and mother were people who strolled along the highways ; I 
know nothing different. When I was a child, they called me 
young fellow; now they call me oldfeHow; those are my bap- 
tismal names ; take that as you like. I have been in Auvergne ; 
I have been at FaveroUes. Fardi. Well ! can't a man have 
been in Auvergne, or at Faverolles, without having been in the 
galleys? I tell you that I have not stolen, and that I am Father 
Champmathieu ; I have been with M. Baloup ; I have had a 
settled residence. You worry me with your nonsense, there I 
Why is everybody pursuing me so furiously ? " 

The district-attorney had remained standing; he addressed 
the President : — 

" Monsieur le Président, in view of the confused but exceed- 
ingly clever denials of the prisoner, who would like to pass 
himself off as an idiot, but who will not succeed in so doing, — 
we shall attend to that, — we demand that it shall please you 
and that it shall please the court to summon once more into this 
place the convicts Brevet, Cochepaille, and Chenildieu, and 
Police-Inspector Javeit, and question them for the last time as 
to the identity of the prisoner with the convict Jean Valjean." 

'' I would remind the district-attorney," said the President, 
*that Police-Inspector Javert, recalled by his duties to the 
*>apital of a neighboring arrondissement, left the court-room 
md the town as soon as he had made his deposition ; we have 
uxorded him permission, with the consent of the district 
ittomey and of the counsel for the prisoner." 

'*That is true, Mr. President," responded the district- 
attorney. *' In the absence of sieur Javert, I think it my duty 
to remind the gentlemen of the jury of what he said here a few 
hours ago. Javert is an estimable man, who does honor by hia 
rigorous and strict probity to inferior but important functions. 
These are the terms of his deposition : ^ I do not even stand in 
need of circumstantial proofs and moral presumptions to give 
^e lie to the prisoner's denial. I recognize him perfectly 


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The name of this man is not Champmathieu ; he is an ex-con- 
vict named Jean Val jean, and is very vicious and much to be 
feared. It was only with extreme regret that he was released 
at the expiration of his term. He underwent nineteen years of 
penal servitude for theft He made five or six attempts to 
escape. Besides the theft from Little Gervais, and from the 
Pierron orchard, I suspect him of a theft committed in the 
house of His Grace the late Bishop of D — . I often saw 
him at the time when I was adjutant of the galley-guard at the 
prison in Toulon. I repeat that I recognize him perfectly.' " 

This extremely precise statement appeared to produce a vivid 
impression on the public and on the jury. The district- 
attorney concluded by insisting, that in default of Javert, the 
three witnesses Brevet, Chenildieu, and Cochepaille should be 
heard once more and solemnly interrogated. 

The President transmitted the order to an usher, and, a 
moment later, the door of the witnesses' room opened. The 
usher, accompanied by a gendarme ready to lend him anned 
assistance, introduced the convict Brevet. The audience was 
in suspense ; and all breasts heaved as though they had con- 
tained but one soul. 

The ex-convict Brevet wore the black and gray waistcoat of 
the central prisons. Brevet was a person sixty years of age, 
who had a sort of business man's face, and the air of a rascal. 
The two sometimes go togetlier. In prison, whither fresh mis- 
deeds had led him, he had become something in the nature of a 
turnkey. He was a man of whom his superiors said, "He 
tries to make himself of use." The chaplains bore good testi- 
mony as to his religious habits. It must not be forgotten that 
this passed under the Restoration. 

" Brevet," said the President, "you have undergone an igno- 
minious sentence, and you cannot take an oath." 

Brevet dropped his eyes. 

" Nevertheless," continued the President, *' even in the man 
whom the law has degraded, there may remain, when the divine 
mercy permits it, a sentiment of honor and of equity. It is to 
this sentiment that I appeal at this decisive hour. If it still 
exists in you, — and I hope it does, — reflect before replying 
to me : consider on the one hand, this man, whom a word from 
you may ruin ; on the other hand, justice, which a word from you 
may enlighten. The instant is solemn ; there is still time to 
retract if you think you have been mistaken. Rise, prisoner. 
Brevet, take a good look at the accused, recall your souvenirs, 
and tell us on your soul and conscience, if you persist in recog- 


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lizing this man as your former companion in the galleys, Jean 

Brevet looked at the prisoner, then turned towards the 

" Yes, Mr. President, I was the first to recognize him, and I 
stick to it ; that man is Jean Valjean, who entered at Toulon in 
1796, and left in 1815. I left a year later. He has the air of a 
brute now ; but it must be because age has brutalized him ; he 
was sly at the galleys : I recognize him positively." 

*'ïake your seat, " said the President. "Prisoner, remain 

Chenildieu was brought in, a prisoner for life, as was indi- 
cated by his red cassock and his green cap. He was serving 
out his sentence at the galleys of Toulon, whence he had been 
brought for this case. He was a small man of about fifty, brisk, 
wrinkled, frail, yellow, brazen-faced, feverish, who had a sort 
of sickly feebleness about all his limbs and his whole person, 
and an immense force in his glance. His companions in the 
galleys had nicknamed him I-deny-God {Je-nie Dieu^ Chenil- 

The President addressed him in nearly the same words which 
he had used to Brevet. At the moment when he reminded him 
of \m infam}' which deprived hir of the right to take an oath, 
Chenildieu raised his head and looked the crowd in the face. 
The President invited him to reflection, and asked liim as he 
had asked Brevet, iC he persisted in recognition of the prisoner. 

Chenildieu burst out laughing. 

" Pardieu, as if I didn't recognize him 1 We were attached 
to the same chain for five years. So you are sulking, old 

" Go take your seat," said the President. 

The usher brought in Cochepaille. He was another convict for 
life, who had come from the galleys, and was dressed in red, 
like Chenildieu, was a peasant from Lourdes, and a half- bear of 
the Pyrenees. He had guarded the flocks among the mountains, 
and from a shepherd he had slipped into a brigand. Coche- 
^)aille was no less savage and seemed even more stupid than the 
prisoner. He was one X)f those wretched men whom nature has 
sketched out for wild beasts, and on whom society puts the 
finishing touches as convicts in the galleys. 

The President tried to touch him with some grave and pathetic 
words, and asked him, as he had asked the other two, if he 
persisted, without iiesitation or trouble, in recognizing the man 
who was standing before him. 


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'* He Î8 Jean Valjean," said Cochepaille. " He was eren 
called Jean-the-Serew, because he was so strong." 

Each of these affirmations from these three men, evidently 
sincere and in good faith, had raised in the audience a murmur 
of bad augury for the prisoner, — a murmur which increased and 
lasted longer each time that a fresh declaration was added to 
the preceding. 

The prisoner had listened to them, with that astounded face 
which was, according to the accusation, his principal means of 
defence ; at the first, the gendarmes, his neighbors, had heard 
him mutter between his teeth: "Ah well, he's a nice one!" 
after the second, he said, a little louder, with an air that was 
almost that of satisfaction, *' Good ! " at the third, he cried» 

The President addressed him : — 

" Have you heard, prisoner? what have you to say?*' 

He replied : — 

"I say, 'Famous!'" 

An uproar broke out among the audience, and was commaDÎ- 
cated to the jury ; it was evident that the man was lost. 

" Ushers," said the President, "enforce silence ! I am going 
to sum up the arguments." 

At that moment tiiere was a movement just beside the Presi- 
dent ; a voice was heard crying : — 

" Brevet ! Chenildieu ! Cochepaille ! look here ! " 

All who heard that voice were chilled, so lamentable and ter- 
rible was it ; all eyes were turned to the point whence it had 
proceeded. A man, placed among the privileged spectators who 
were seated behind the court, had just risen, had pushed open 
the half-door which separated the tribunal from the audience, 
and was standing in the middle of the hall ; the President, the 
district-attorney, M. Bamatabois, twenty persons, recognized 
aim, and exclaimed in concert : — 

"M. Madeleine!" 

XI. — Champmathieu more and more astonished. 

It was he, in fact. The clerk's lamp illumined his countenance. 
He held his hat in his hand ; there was no disorder m his cloth- 
ing ; his coat was carefully buttoned ; he was very pale, and he 
trembled slightly ; his hair, which had still been gra}' on his 
arrival in Arras, was now entirely white : it had turned whit« 
during the hour he had sat there. 

All heads were raised : the sensation was indescribable ; there 


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iras a momentary hesitation in the audience, the voice had 
been so heart-rending ; the man who stood there appeared a; 
calm that they did not understand at first. They asked them- 
selves whether he had indeed uttered that cry ; they could not 
believe that that tranquil man had been the one to give that ter- 
rible outcry. 

This indecision only lasted a few seconds. Even before the 
President and the district-attorney could utter a word, before 
the ushers and the gendarmes could make a gesture, the man 
whom all still called, at that moment. M. Madeleine, had ad- 
vanced towards the witnesses Cochepaille, Brevet, and Chenil 

" Do you not recognize me?" said he. 

All three remained speechless, and indicated by a sign of the 
head that they did not know him. Cochepaille, who was intim- 
idated, made a military salute. M. Madeleine turned towards 
the jury and the court, and said in a gentle voice : — 

*' Gentlemen of the jury, order the prisoner to be released 5 
Mr. President, have me arrested. He is not the man whom you 
are in search of ; it is I : I am Jean Val jean." 

Not a mouth breathed ; the first commotion of astonishment 
had been followed by a silence like that of the grave ; those 
within the hall experienced that sort of religious teiTor which 
seizes the masses when something grand has been done. 

In the meantime, the face of the President was stamped with 
sympathy and sadness ; he had exchanged a rapid sign with the 
district^attorney and a few low-toned words with the assistant 
jndges ; he addressed the public, and asked in accents which all 
understood : — 

'* Is there a physician present?" 

The district-attorney took the word : — 

''Gentlemen of the jury, the very strange and unexpected 
incident which disturbs the audience inspires us, like your- 
selves, only with a sentiment which it is" unnecessary for us to 
express. You all know, by reputation at least, the honorable 
M. Madeleine, mayor of M. sur M. ; if there is a physician in 
the audience, we join the President in requesting him to attend 
to M. Madeleine, and to conduct him to his home." 

M. Madeleine did not allow the district- attorney to finish ; he 
interrupted him in accents full of suavity and authority. These 
are the words which he uttered ; here they are literally, as they 
were written down, immediately after the trial, by one of the 
witnesses to this scene, and as they now ring in the ears of 
those who heard them nearly forty, years ago ; — 


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" I thank you, Mr. District- Attorney, but I am not mad ; yo» 
shall see; you were on the point of committing a great error, 
release this man ! I am fulfilling a duty ; I am that miserable 
criminal. I am the only one here who sees the matter clearly, 
and I am telling you the truth. God, who is on high, looks 
down on what I am doing at this moment, and that suffices. 
You can take me, for here I am : but I have done my best ; I 
concoaled myself under another name ; I have become rich ; 1 
have become a mayor ; I have tried to re-enter the ranks of the 
honest. It seems that that is not to be done. In short, there are 
many things which I cannot tell. I will not narrate the story of 
my life to you ; you will hear it one of these days. I robbed 
Monseigneur the Bishop, it is true ; it is true that I robbed Little 
Gervais ; they were right in telling you that Jean Valjean was a 
very vicious wretch. Perhaps it was not altogether his fault. 
Listen, honorable judges ! a man who has been so gieatly hum- 
bled as I have has neither any remonstrances to make to Provi- 
dence, nor any advice to give to society ; but, you see, the in- 
famy from which I have tried to escape is an injurious thing ; 
the galleys make the convict what he is ; reflect upon that, if 
you please. Before. going to the galleys, I was a poor peasant, 
with very little intelligence, a sort of idiot ; the galleys wrought 
a change in me. I was stupid ; I became vicious : I was a block 
of wood ; I became a firebrand. Later on, indulgence and kind- 
ness saved me, as severity had ruined me. But, pardon me, you 
cannot understand what I am saying. You will find at my 
house, among the ashes in the fireplace, the forty-sous piece 
which I stole, seven 3'ears ago, from Little Gervais. I have 
nothing further to add ; take me. Good God ! the district- 
attorney shakes his head ; you say, * M. Madeleine has gone 
mad ! ' you do not believe me ! that is distressing. Do not, at 
least, condemn this man ! What ! these men do not recognize 
me ! I wish Javert were here ; he would recognize me.** 

Nothing can reproduce the sombre and kindly melancholy of 
■x)ne which accompanied these woixis. 
He turned to the three convicts, and said : — 
'* Well, I recognize you ; do you remember. Brevet?— •* 
He paused, hesitated for an instant, and said : — 
*' Do you remember the knitted suspenders with a checked 
pattern which you wore in the galleys ? '* 

Brevet gave a start of surprise, and surveyed him from head 
to foot with a frightened air. He continued : — 

'' Chenildieu, you who conferred on yourself the name of * Je- 
nie-Dieu,' your whole right shoulder bears a deep bum, because 


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yoa one day laid jour shoulder against the chafing-dish full of 
coals, in order to efface the three letters T. F. P., which ar« 
iltill visible, nevertheless ; answer, is this true ? " 

" It is true," said Chenildieu. 

He addressed himself to CochepaiUe : — 

" Cochepaille, you have, near the bend in your left arm, a 
date stamped in blue letters witli burnt powder ; the date is 
^.batof the landing of the Emperor at Cannes, March 1, 1815 ; 
pull up your sleeve!" 

CochepaiUe pushed up his sleeve ; all eyes were focussed on 
Mm and on his bare arm. 

A gendarme held a light close to it ; there was the date. 

The unhappy man turned to the spectators and the judges 
trith a smile which still rends the hearts of all who saw it when- 
ever they think of it. It was a smile of triumph ; it was also a 
smile of despair. 

" You see plainly," he said, '' that I am Jean Val jean," 

In that chamber thpre were no longer either judges, accusers, 
nor gendarmes ; there was nothing but staring eyes and sympa- 
thizing hearts. No one recalled any longer the part that each 
might be called upon to play ; the district-attorney forgot he 
was there for the purpose of prosecuting, the President that he 
was there to preside, the counsel for the defence that he was 
there to defend. It was a striking circumstance that no ques- 
ûon was put, that no authority intervened. The peculiarity of 
«nblime spectacles is, that they capture all souls and turn wit- 
nesses into spectators. No one, probably, could have explained 
what be felt; no one, probably, said to himself that he was wit« 
nessing the splendid outburst of a grand light : all felt them* 
selves inwardly dazzled. 

It was evident that they had Jean Val jean before their eyes. 
That was clear. The appearance of this man had sufficed to 
suffuse with light that matter which had been so obscure but a 
moment previously, without any further explanation ; the whole 
crowd, as by a sort of electric revelation, understood instantly 
ind at a single glance the simple and magnificent history of 
a man who was delivering himself up so that another man 
might not be condemned in his stead. Tiie details, the hésita* 
tioûs, little possible oppositions, were swallowed up in that vast 
Mid luminous fact. 

It was an impression which vanished speedily, but which was 
inresistible at the moment. 

*' I do not wish to disturb the court further," resumed Jean 
faljeau, *' I shall withdraw, since you do not arrest me 1 


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have many things to do. The district-attorney knowB who I 
am ; he knows whither I am going ; he can have me arrester! 
when ho likes." 

He directed his steps towards the door. Not a voice was 
raised, not an arm extended to hinder him. All stood aside. 
At that moment there was about him that divine something 
which causes multitudes to stand aside and make way for a man. 
He traversed the crowd slowly. It was never known who opene<] 
the door, but it is certain that he found the door open when hf 
reached it. On arriving there he turned round and said : — 

" I am at your command, Mr. District-Attorney." 

Then he addressed the audience : — 

*' All of you, all who are present — consider me worthy ot 
pity, do 3'ou not? Good God 1 When I think of what I was on 
the point of doing, I consider that I am to be envied. Never- 
theless, I should have preferred not to have had this occur." 

Ho withdrew, and the door closed behind him as it had 
opened, for those who do certain sovereign things are always 
sure of being served by some one in the crowd. 

Less than an hour after this, the verdict of the jury freed tht 
said Champmathieu from all accusations ; and Champmathien, 
being at once released, went off in a state of stupefaction, 
thinking that all men were fools, and comprehending nothicg 
of this viBion. 

I. — In what Mirror M. Madeleine contemplates his Hair 

The day had begun to dawn. Fantine had passed a sleep 
less and feverish night, filled with happy visions ; at daybroak 
she fell asleep. Sister Simplice, who had been watching with 
her, availed herself of this slumber to go and prepare a new 
potion of chinchona. The worthy sister had been in the labora- 
tory of the infirmary but a few moments, bending over her drug? 
and phials, and scrutinizing things very closely, on account of 
the dimness which the half-light of dawn spreads over all oh 
jects. Suddenly she raised her head and uttered a faint shriek 
M. Madeleine stood before her ; he had just entered Bilenti; 

*' Is it you, Mr. Mayor?" she exclaimed. 

He replied in a low voice : — 

'' How is that poor woman ? " 


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*' Not so bad just now ; but we have been very uneasy/* 

She explained to him what had passed : that Fantiue had 
been very ill the day before, and that she was better now, be- 
cause she thought that the mayor had gone to Montfermeil to 
get her child. The sister dared not question the mayor; but 
she perceived plainly from his air that he had not come from 

*' All that is good," said he ; '* you were right not to unde- 
ceive her." 

"Yes," responded the sister; "but now, Mr. Mayor, she 
will see you and will not see her child. What shall we say to 

He reflected for a moment. 

'* God will inspire us," said he. 

*' But we cannot tell a lie," murmured the sister, half aloud. 

It was broad daylight in the room. The light fell full on M. 
Madeleine's face. The sister chanced to mise her eyes to it. 

'* Good God, sir ! " she exclaimed ; " what has happened to 
vou? Your hair is perfectly white ! " 

" White ! " said he. 

Sister Simplice had no mirror. She rummaged in a drawer, 
and pulled out the little glass which the doctor of the infirmary 
used to see whether a patient was dead and whether he no longer 
breathed. M. Madeleine took the mirror, looked at his hair, 
and said : — 

" Well ! " 

He nttered the word indifferently, and as though his mind 
were on something else. 

The sister felt chilled by something strange of which she 
caught a glimpse in all this. 

He inquired : — 

"Can I see her?" 

" Is not Monsieur le Maire going to have her child brought 
hack to her? " said the sister, hardly venturing to put the ques- 

** Of course ; but it will take two or three days at least." 

" If she were not to see Monsieur le Maire until that time," 
went on the sister, timidly, " she would not know that Monsieur 
le Maire had returned, and it would be easy to inspire her with 
patience ; and when the child arrived, she would natt; rally think 
Monsieur le Maire had just come with the child. We should not 
have to < nact a lie." 

M. Madeleine seemed to reflect for a few moments ; then he 
said with his calm gravity : — 


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" No, bister, I must see her. I may, perhaps, be in haste *" 

The nun did not appear to notice this word '' perhaps," which 
communicated an obscure and singular sense to the words of 
the mayor's speech. She replied, lowering her eyes and her 
voice respectfully : — 

^^ In that case, she is asleep; but Monsieur le Maire may 

He made some remarks about a door which shut badly, and the 
noise of which might awaken the sick woman ; then he entered 
Fantinc's chamber, approached the bed, and drew aside the cur- 
tains. She was asleep. Her breath issued f ram her breast with 
that tragic sound which is peculiar to those maladies, and which 
breaks the hearts of mothers when they are watching through the 
niglit beside their sleeping child who is condemned to death. But 
this painful respiration hardly troubled a sort of ineffable serenity 
which overspread her countenance, and which transfigured her 
in her sleep. Her pallor had become whiteness; her cheeks 
were crimson ; her long golden lashes, the only beauty of her 
youth and her virginity which remained to her, palpitated, 
though they remained closed and drooping. Her whole i)er8on was 
trembling with an indescribable unfolding of wings, all read3' to 
open wide and bear her away, which could be f Jt as they rus- 
tled, though they could not be seen. To see her thus, one would 
never have dreamed that she was an invalid whose life was 
almost despaired of. Slie resembled rather something on the 
point of soaring away than something on the point of dying. 

The branch trembles when a hand approaches it to pluck a 
flower, and seems to both withdraw and to offer itself at one 
and the same time. The human body has something of this 
tremor when the instant arrives in which the mysterious fingers 
of Death are about to pluck the soul. 

M. Madeleine remained for some time motionless beside that 
bed, gazing in turn upon the sick woman and the crucifix, as he 
had done two montiis before, on the day when hb had come for 
the first time to see her in that asylum. They were both still 
there in the same attitude — she sleeping, he praying; onl3- 
now, after thç lapse of two months, her hair was gray and his 
was white. 

The sister had not entered with him. He stood beside the 
bed, with his finger on his lips, as though there were some one 
in the chamber whom he must enjoin to silence. 

She opened her eyes, saw him, and said quietly, with 9 
smile : — 



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n. — Fantine Happy. 

Sh2 made no movement of eitiier surprise or of joy ; she was 
|oy itself. That simple question, "And Cosette?" was pu* 
with so profound a faith, with so much certainty, with sucli a 
complete absence of disquiet and of doubt, that he fouud not a 
word of reply. She continued : — 

" I knew that you were there. I was asleep, but I saw you. 
I have seen you for a long, long time. I have been following 
you with my eyes all night long. You were in a glory, and 
you had around you all sorts of celestial forms." 

He raised his glance to the cinicifix. 

"But," she resumed, "tell me where Cosette is. Why did 
not you place her on my bed against the moment of my waking ? *' 

He made some mechanical reply which he was never after- 
wards able to recall. 

Fortunately, the doctor had been warned, and he now made 
his appearance. He came to the aid of M. Madeleine. 

"Calm yourself, my child," said the doctor ; " your child is 

Fantine's eyes beamed and filled her whole face with light. 
She clasped her hands with an expression which contained all 
that is possible to prayer in the way of violence and tenderness. 

" Oh ! " she exclaimed, " bring her to me ! " 

Touching illusion of a mother! Cosette was, for her, still 
the little child who is carried. 

" Not yet," said the doctor, " not just now. You still have 
some fever. The sight of your -child would agitate you and do 
you harm. You must be cured first." 

She interrupted him impetuously : — 

" But I am cured ! Oh, I tell you that I am cured ! What 
an asB that doctor is ! The idea ! I want to see my child ! " 

" You see," said the doctor, " how excited you become. So 
long as you are in this state I shall oppose your having your 
child. It is not enough to see her ; it is necessary that you 
should live for her. When you are reasonable, I will bring her 
to you myself." 

The poor mother bowed her head. 

'*I beg your pardon, doctor, I really beg your pardon. 
Formerly I should never have spoken as I have just done ; so 
many misfortunes have happened to me, that I sometimes do 
not know what I am saying. I understand you ; you fear the 


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emotion. I will wait as long as you like, but I swear to yoi 
that it would not have harmed me to see my daughter. I have 
l>ecn seeing her; I have not taken my eyes from her since 3'es- 
terday evening. Do you know? If she were brought to me 
now, I should talk to her very gently. That is all. Is it not 
quite natural that I should desire to see my daughter, who has 
been brought to me expressly from Montfermeil? I am not 
angry. I know well that I am about to be happy. All night 
long I have seen wliite things, and persons who smiled at me. 
When Monsieur le Docteur pleases, he shall bring me Cosetto. 
I have no longer any fever ; I am well. I am perfectly con- 
scious that there is nothing the matter with me any more ; but 
I am going to behave as though I were ill, and not Btir, to 
please these ladies here. When it is seen that I am very calm, 
they will say, ' She must have her child.' " 

M. Madeleine was sitting on a chair beside the bed. 8b« 
turned towards him ; she was making a visible effort to be calm 
and " very good," as she expressed it in the feebleness of ill- 
ness which resembles infancy, in order that, seeing her so 
peaceable, they might make no difficulty about bringing Coeette 
to her. But while she controlled herself she could not refrain 
from questioning M. Madeleine. 

*' Did you have a pleasant trip. Monsieur le Maire? Oh ! how 
good you were to go and get her for me ! Only tell me how 
she is. Did she stand the journey well? Alas! she will nol; 
recognize me. S lie must have forgotten me by this time, pcx>y 
darling! Children have no memories. They are like birds. 
A child sees one thing to-day and another tiling to-morrow, and 
thinks of nothing any longer. And did she have white linen ? 
Did those Thénardiers keep her clean? How have they fod 
her? Oh ! if you only knew how I have suffered, putting such 
questions as that to myself during all the time of my wretclied- 
ness. Now, it is all past. I am hap{)y. Oh, how I should 
like to see her ! Do you think her pretty, Monsieur le Maire ? 
Is not my daughter beautiful? You must have been very cold 
in that diligence ! Could she not be brought for just one little 
instant? She might be taken away directly afterwards. Tell 
me ; you are the master ; it could be so if you chose ! " 

He took her hand. " Cosette is beautifuU" he said, " Cos» 
ette is well. You shall see her soon ; but calm yourself ; you 
are talking with too much vivacity, and you are throwing your 
arms out from under the clothes, and that makes you a)ugh." 

In fact, tits of coughing interrupted Fantine at nearly every 


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Fantine did not murmur ; she feared that she had injured bv 
âer too passionate lamentations the confidence which she was 
desirous of inspiring, and she began to talk of indifferent 

*' Montfermeil is quite prett}', is it not? People go there on 
pleasure parties in summer. Are the Thénardiers prosperous? 
There are not many travellers in their parts. That inn of theirs 
*i» a sort of a cook-shop." 

M. Madeleine was still holding her hand, and gazing at her 
ffith anxiety ; it was evident that he had come to tell her things 
before which his mind now hesitated. The doctor, having fin- 
ished his visit, retired. Sister Simplice remained alone with 

But in the midst of this pause Fantine exclaimed : — 

" I hear her ! mon Dieu, I hear her ! " 

She stretched out her arm to enjoin silence about her, held 
ker breath, and began to listen with rapture. 

There was a child playing in the yard — the child of the por- 
tress or of some work- woman. It was one of those accidents 
which are always occurring, and which seem to form a part of 
the mysterious stage-setting of mournful scenes. The child — 
a little girl — was going and coming, running to warm herself, 
laughing, singing at the top of her voice. Alas ! in what are 
the plays of children not intermingled. It was this little girl 
whom Fantine heard singing. 

"Oh!" she resumed, 'Mt is my Cosette} I recognize her 

The child retreated as it had come ; the voice died awa}*. 
Fantine listened for a while longer, then her face clouded over, 
and M. Madeleine heard her say, in a low voice : " How wicked 
that doctor is not to allow me to see my daughter ! That man 
has an evil countenance, that he has." 

But the smiling background of her thoughts came to the front 
again. She continued to talk to herself, with her head resting 
:)u the pillow : " How happy we are going to be ! "VVe shall 
bave a little garden the very first thing; M. Madeleine has 
promised it to me. My daughter will play in the garden. She 
uust know her letters bj' this time. I will make her spell. 
She will run over the grass after butterflies. I will watch her. 
Then she will take her first communion. Ah ! when will she 
take ber first communion ? " 

She began to reckon on her fingers. 

"One, two, three, four — she is seven years old. In five 
jears she will have a white veil, and openwork stockings ; she 


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will look like a little woman. O my good sister, you do noi 
know how foolish I become when I Uiiuk of my daughter*s first 
communion ! " 

8 he began to laugh. 

He had released Fantine's hand. He listened to her words as 
one listens to the sighing of the breeze, with his eyes on Uie 
ground, his mind absorbed in reflection which had no bottom. 
All at once she ceased speaking, and this caused him to raist 
his head mechanically. Fantine had become terrible. 

She no longer spolie, she no longer breathed ; she had raised 
herself to a sitting posture, her thin shoulder emerged from lier 
chemise ; her face, which had been radiant but a mom<*nt before, 
was ghastl}*, and she seemed to have fixed her eyes, rendered 
larger with terror, on something alarming at the other extremity 
of the room. 

" Good God ! " he exclaimed ; " what ails you, Fantine?" 

She made no reply ; she did not remove her eyes from tlie 
object which she seemed to see. She removed one hand from 
his arm, and with the other made him a sign to look behind 

He turned, and beheld Javert. 

m. — Javert Satisfisd. 

This is what had taken place. 

The half-hour after miduight had just struck when M. Made- 
leine quitted the Hall of Assizes in Arras. He regained his inu 
just in time to set out again by the mail- wagon, in which he bad 
engaged his place. A little before six o'clock in the morning 
he had arrived at M. sur M., and his first care had been to post 
a letter to M. Lafiittc, then to enter the infirmary and see Fan- 

However, he had hardly quitted the audience hall of the Court 
of Assizes, when the district-attorney, recovering from his first 
shock, had taken the word to dejilore the mad deed of the hon- 
orable mayor of M. sur M., to declare that his convictions liad 
not been in the least modified by that curious incident, which 
would be explained thereafter, and to demand, in the meantime, 
the condemnation of that Champmathicu, who was evidently the 
real Jean Val jean. The district-attorney's persistence was vis- 
ibly at variance with the sentiments of every one, of the pubiic, 
of the court, and of tlie jury. The counsel for the defence had 
some difficulty in refuting this harangue and in establishing that, 


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ID consequence of the revelations of M. Madeleine, that is to 
»ay, of the real Jean Val jean, tlie aspect of the matter had beeu 
tnoi-ooghly altered, aud that the jury liad before their eyes now 
only an innocent man. Thence the lawyer had drawn some 
epiphonemas, not very fresh, unfortunately, upon judicial errors, 
etc., etc. ; the President, in his summing up, had joined the 
counsel for the defence, and in a few minutes the jury had 
thrown Champmathieu out of the case. 

Nevertheless, the district-attorney was bent on having a Jean 
Val jean; and as he had no longer Champmathieu, he took 

Immediately after Champmathieu had been set at liberty, 
the district-attorney shut himself up with the President. They 
conferred *'as to the necessity of seizing the person of M. le 
Maire of M. sur M." This phrase, in which there was a great 
deal of o/, is the district-attorney's, written with his own hand, 
on the minutes of his report to the attorney-general. His lirst 
emotion having passed off, the President did not offer many 
objections. Justice must, after all, take its course. . And then, 
when all was said, although the President was a kindly and a 
tolerably intelligent man, he was, at the same time, a devoted 
and almost an ardent royalist, and he had been shocked to hear 
the Mayor of M. sur M. say the Emperor^ and not Bonaparte^ 
when alluding to the landing at Cannes. 

The order for his arrest was accordingly despatched. The 
district-attorney forwarded it to M. sur M. by a special mes- 
senger, at full speed, and entrusted its execution to Police 
Inspector Javert. 

The reader knows that Javert had returned to M. sur M. 
immediately after having given his deposition. 

Javert was just getting out of bed when the messenger handed 
him the order of arrest and the command to produce the pris- 

The messenger himself was a very clever member of the 
police, who, in two words, informed Javert of what had taken 
place at Arras. The order of aiTest, signed by the district- 
attorney was couched in these words : '* Inspector Javert will 
apprehend the body of the Sieur Madeleine, mayor of M. sur 
M., who, in this day's session of the court, was recognized as 
the liberated convict, Jean Val jean." 

Any one who did not know Javert, and who had chanced to 
see him at the moment when he penetrated the antechamber of 
the infirmary, could have divined nothing of what had taken 
place, and would have thought his air the most ordinary in the 


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world. He was cool, calm, grave, his gray hair was perfectly 
smooth upon his temples, and he had just mounted the staii t 
with his habitual deliberation. Any one who was thoroughl r 
acquainted with him, and who had examined him attentively î I 
the moment, would have shuddered. The buckle of his leaihc ! 
stock was under his left ear instead of at the nape of his necl« . 
This betrayed unwonted agitation. 

Javert was a complete character, who never had a wrinkle in 
his duty or in his uniform ; methodical with malefactors, ri^d 
with the buttons of his coat. 

That he should have set the buckle of his stock awry, it wa» 
indispensable that there should have taken place in him one cf 
those emotions which may be designated as internal oarthquakef . 

He had come in a simple way, had made a requisition on the 
neighl)oring post for a corporal and four soldiera, had left tht 
soldiers in the courtyard, had had Fan tine's room pointed out 
to him by the portress, who was utterly unsuspicious, accuf • 
tomed as she was to seeing armed men inquiring for the mayoi. 

On arriving in Fantine's chamber, Javert turned the handle , 
pushed the door open with the gentleness of a sick-nurse or i 
police spy, and entered. 

Properly speaking, he did not enter. He stood erect in thi 
half-open door, his hat on his head and his left hand thrust int > 
his coat, which was buttoned up to the chin. In the bend of hit 
elbow the leaden head of his enormous cane, which was bidde t 
behind him, could be seen. 

Thus he remained for nearl}' a minute, without his presence 
being perceived. All at once Fan tine raised her eyes, saw him, 
and made M. Madeleine turn round. 

The instant that Madeleine's glance encountered Javert's 
glance, Javert, without stirring, without moving from his post, 
without approaching, became terrible. No human sentiment 
can be as terrible as joy. 

It was the visage of a demon who has Just found his damned 

The satisfaction of at last getting hold of Jean Valjean cause<l 
all that was in his soul to appear in his countenance. The depth « 
having been stirred up, mounted to the surface. The humilia- 
tion of having, in some slight degree, lost the scent, and of 
having indulged, for a few moments, in an error with regard to 
Champmathieu, was effaced b}- pride at having so well anti 
accurately divined in the first place, and of having for so lon$L 
cherished a just instinct. Javert's content shone forth in hi» 
sovereign attitude. The deformity of triumph overspread thai 


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Darrow brow. All the démonstrations of horror which a satis- 
Ged face can afford were there. 

Javert was in heaven at that moment. Without putting the 
thing clearly to himself, but with a confused intuition of tlic 
necessit}' of his presence and of his success, he, Javert, personi- 
fied justice, light, and truth in their celestial function of crushing 
oat evil. Behind him and around him, at an infinite distance, 
he had authority, reason, the case judged, the legal conscience, 
the public prosecution, all the stars ; he was protecting order, he 
was causing the law to yield up its thunders, he was avenging 
society, he was lending a helping hand to the absolute, he was 
etanding erect in the midst of a glory. There existed in his vic- 
tory a remnant of defiance and of combat. Erect, haughty, bril- 
liant, he flaunted abroad in open day the superhuman bestiality 
of a ferocious archangel. The terrible shadow of the action 
which he was accomplishing caused the vague flash of the social 
sword to be visible in his clenched fist; happy and indignant, 
he held his heel upon crime, vice, rebellion, perdition, hell ; he 
was radiant, he exterminated, he smiled, and there was an 
incontestible grandeur in this monstrous Saint Michael. 

Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. 

Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are 
things which may become hideous when wrongl}^ directed ; but 
which, even when hideous, remain grand : their majesty, the 
majesty peculiar to the human conscience, clings to them in the 
midst of horror ; they are virtues which have one vice, — error. 
The honest, pitiless joy of a fanatic in the full flood of his 
atrocity preserves a certain lugubriously venerable radiance. 
Without himself suspecting the fact, Javert in his formidable 
happiness was to be pitied, as is every ignorant man who tri- 
umphs. Nothing could be so poignant and so terrible as this 
face, wherein was displayed all that may be designated as the 
evil of the good. 

IV. — AuTHORrnr reasserts ns Rights. 

Faktine had not seen Javert since the day on which the 
mayor had torn her from the man. Her ailing brain compre- 
hended nothing, but the only thing which she. did not doubt 
was that he had come to get her. She could not endure that 
terrible face ; she felt her life quitting her ; she hid her face in 
both hands, and shrieked in her anguish : — 

'^ Monsienr Madeleine, save me ' " 


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Jean Valjean — we shall henceforth not speak of him other 
wise — had risen. He said to Fan tine in the gentlest and 
calmest of voices : — 

" Be at ease ; it is not for you that he is come.** 

Then he addressed Javert, and said : — 

" I know what you want." 

Javert replied : ^ 

«*Be quick about it I" 

There lay in the inflection of voice which accompanied these 
words something indescribably fierce and frenzied. Javert did 
not say, *' Be quick about it ! " he said, '' Bequiabouit." 

No orthography can do justice to the accent with which it 
was uttered : it was no longer a human word ; it was a roar. 

He did not proceed according to his custom, he did not enter 
into the matter, he exhibited no warrant of arrest. In his eyes, 
Jean Valjean was a sort of mysterious combatant, who was 
not to be laid hands upon, a wrestler in the dark whom he had 
had in his grasp for the last five years, without being able to 
throw him. This arrest was not a beginning, but an end. He 
confined himself to saying, " Be quick about it ! " 

As he spoke thus, he did not advance a single step ; he hurled 
at Jean Valjean a glance which he threw out like a grappling- 
hook, and with which he was accustomed to draw wretches vic^ 
lentl}- to him. 

It was this glance which Fantine had felt penetrating to the 
very marrow of her bones two months previously. 

At Javert's exclamation, Fantine opened her eyes once more. 
But the mayor was there ; what had she to fear? 

Javert advanced to the middle of the room, and cried : — 

" See here now ! Art thou coming? " 

The unhappy woman glanced about her. No one was present 
excepting the nun and the ma3'or. To whom could that abjcc« 
use of " thou *' be addressed? To her only. She shuddered. 

Then she beheld a most unprecedented thing, a thing so 
jnprecedented that nothing equal to it had appeared to her 
3ven in the blackest deliriums of fever. 

She beheld Javert, the police spy, seize the mayor by the 
collar ; she saw the mayor bow his head. It seemed to her thai 
the world was coming to an end. 

Javert had, in fact, grasped Jean Valjean by the collar. 

'' Monsieur le Maire ! " shrieked Fantine. 

Javert burst out laughing with that frightful laugh whicb 
displayed all his gums. 

*' There is no longer any Monsieur le Maire here I '* 


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Jean Yaljean made no attempt to disengage the hand which 
grasped the collar of his coat. He said : — 

"Javert — " 

Javert interrupted him : " Call me Mr. Inspector/* 

*' Monsieur," said Jean Val jean, " I should like to say a word 
to you in private." 

"Aloud! Say it aloud!" replied Javert; "people are in 
the habit of talking aloud to me." 

Jean Valjean went on in a lower tone : — 

" I have a request to make of you — '* 

** I tell you to speak loud." 

** But you alone should hear it — " 

** What difference does that make to me? I shall not listen." 

Jean Valjean turned towards him and said very rapidly and 
in a very low voice : ~ 

** Grant me three days' grace ! three days in which to go and 
fetch the child of this unhappy woman. I will pay whatever is 
necessar}'. You shall accompany me if you choose." 

**You are making sport of me!" cried Javert. "Come 
now, I did not think you such a fool ! You ask me to give you 
three days in which to run away ! You say that it is for the 
purpose of fetching that creature's child ! Ah ! Ah ! That's 
good ! That's really capital ! " 

Fantine was seized with a fit of trembling. 

" My child ! " she cried, " to go and fetch my child ! She is 
not here, then ! Answer me, sister ; where is Cosette? I want 
my child ! Monsieur Madeleine ! Monsieur le Maire ! " 

Javert stamped his foot. 

" And now there's the other one ! Will you hold your tongue, 
you huBS}'? It's a pretty sort of a place where convicts are 
magistrates, and where women of the town are cared for like 
countesses ! Ah ! But we are going to change all that ; it is 
high time ! " 

He stared intently at Fantine, and added, once more taking 
into his grasp Jean Valjean's cravat, shirt and collar : — 

"I tell 3'ou that there is no Monsieur Madeleine and that 
there is no Monsieur le Maire. There is a thief, a brigand, a 
convict named Jean Valjean ! And I have him in my grasp Î 
That's what there is ! " 

Fantine raised herself in bed with a bound, supporting her- 
self on her sti^ened arms and on both hands : she gazed at 
Jean Valjean, she gazed at Javert, she gazed at the nun, she 
opened her month as though to speak ; a rattle proceeded from 
the depths of her throat, her teeth chattered; she stretched 


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out her anus in Iict agony, opening her hands convuiBtvely, and 
fumbling about her like a drowning person ; then suddenly feU 
back on her pillow. 

Her head struck the head-board of the bed and fell forwards 
on ber breast, with gaping mouth and staring, sightless eyes. 

She was dead. 

Jean Valjean laid his hand uix>n the detaining hand of Javert, 
ind opened it as he would have opened the hand of a baby, 
then he said to J avert : — 

'* You have murdered that woman." 

'' Let's have an end of this ! " shoute^l Javert, in a fury ; '* ) 
am not here to listen to argument. Ixît us economize all Uiat , 
the guard is below ; march on instantly, or you'll get tbe thumb- 


In the corner of the room stood an old iron bedstead, which 
was in a decidedly decrepit state*, and which served the sisters as 
a camp-bed when they were watching with the sick. Jean Val- 
jean stepped up to this bed, in a twinkling wrenched off the head- 
piece, which was already in a dilapidati'd condition, an easy 
matter to muscles like his, grasped the principal rod like a 
bludgeon, and glanced at Javert. Javert retreated towards the 
door. Jean Valjean, armed with his bar of iron, walked slowly 
up to Fantine's couch. When he arrived there he turned and 
said to Javert, in a voice that was barely audible : — 

'' I advise you not to disturb me at this moment." 

One thing is certain, and that is, that Javert ti'embled. 

It did occur to him to summon the guard, but Jean Valjean 
might avail himself of that moment to effect his escape ; so bo 
remained, grasped his cane b}' the small end, and leaned against 
the door-post, without removing his eyes from Jean Valjean. 

Jean Valjean rested his elbow on the knob at the head of the 
bed, and his brow on his hand, and began to contemplate the 
motionless body of Fantine, which lay extended there. He 
remained thus, mute, absorbed, evidently with no farther 
thought of anything connected with this life. Uix)n his face 
and in his attitude there was nothing but inexpressible pity. 
After a few moments of this meditation he bent towards Fan- 
tine, and spoke to her in a low voice. 

What did he say to her? What could this man, who was 
reproved, say to that woman, who was dead? AVhat words 
were those? No one on earth heard them. Did the dead 
woman hear them? There are some touching illusions wliicb 
are, perhaps, sublime realities. The point as to which there 
exists no doubt is, that Sister Simplice, the sole witness of the 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

FA NT I NE. 281 

incident, often said that at the moment that Jean Valjean whis 
pered in Fan tine's ear, she distinctly beheld an ineffable smile 
dawn on those pale lips, and in those dim eyes, filled with the 
amazement of the tomb. 

Jean Valjean took Fan tine's head in both his bauds, and 
arranged it on the pillow as a mother might have done for her 
child ; then he tied the string of her chemise, and smoothed her 
hair back under her cap. That done, he closed her eyes. 

Fantine's face seemed strangely illuminated at that moment. 

Death, that signifies entrance into the great light. 

Fautine's hand was hanging over the side of the bed. Jean 
V^aljean knelt down before that hand, lifted it gently, and 
kissed it. 

Then he rose, and turned to Javert. 

" Now." said he, *' I am at your disposaJL** 

V.^A Suitable Tobib. 

Javkbt deposited Jean Valjean in the city prison. 

The arrest of M. Madeleine occasioned a sensation, or rather, 
an extraordinary commotion in M. sur M. We are sorry that 
we cannot conceal the fact, that at the single word, '^ He was 
a convict," nearly every one deserted him. In less than two 
hours all the good that he had done had been forgotten, and he 
was nothing but a " convict from the galleys." It is just to 
add that the details of what had taken place at Arras were not 
yet known. All day long conversations like the following were 
to be heard in all quartera of the town : — 

*' You don't know ? He was a liberated convict !" '' Who? " 
"The mayor." ''Bah! M.Madeleine?" "Yes." "Really?" 
" His name was not Madeleine at all; he had a frightful name, 
Béjean, Bojean, Boujean." "Ah! Good God!" "He has 
l>een arrested." " Arrested !" "In prison, in the city prison, 
while waiting to be transferred." " Until he is transferred ! " 
* He is to be transferred !" " Where is he to be taken ?" "He 
will be tried at the Assizes for a highway robbery which he com- 
mitted long ago." "Well! I suspected as much. That man 
was too good, too perfect, too affected. He refused the cross ; 
he bestowed sous on all the little scamps he came across. I 
always thought there was some evil history back of all that." 

The *' drawing-rooms" particularly abounded in remarks of 
this nature. 

One old lady, a subscriber to the Drapeau EtanCy made tSi€ 


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following remark, the depth of which it is impossible \m 
fathom : — 

'' I am not sorry. It will be a lesson to the Bonapart- 

It was thus that the phantom wliich had been called M. Made- 
:cine vanished from M. sur M. Only three or four persons in 
all the town remained faithful to his memory. The old por- 
tress who had served him was among the number. 

On the evening of that day the worthy old woman was sit- 
ting in her lodge, still in a thorough fright, and absorbed in 
sad reflections. The factory had been closed all day, the car- 
riage gate was bolted, the street was deserted. There was no 
one in the house but the two nuns. Sister Perpétue and Sister 
Simplice, who were watching beside the body of Fantiue. 

Towards the hour when M. Madeleine was accustomed to 
return home, the good portress rose mechanically, took horn a 
drawer the key of M. Madeleine's chamber, and the flat candle- 
stick which he used every evening to go up to his quarters; 
then she hung the key on the nail whence he was accustomed 
to take it, and set the candlestick on one side, as though she 
was expecting hira. Then she sat down again on her chair, 
and became al)sorbed in thought once more. The poor, good 
old woman had done all this without being conscious of it. 

It was only at the expiration of two hours that she roused 
herself from her revery, and exclaimed, *'Hold! My good 
God Jesus ! And I hung his key on the nail ! " 

At that moment the small window in the lodge opened, a 
hand passed through, seized the key and the candlestick, and 
lighted the taper at the candle which was burning there. 

The portress raised her eyes, and stood there with gaping 
mouth, and a shriek which she confined to her throat. 

She knew that hand, that arm, the sleeve of that coat. 

It was M. Madeleine. 
* It was several seconds before she could speak ; she had a 
fetzare, as she said herself, when she related the adventure 

*'Good God, Monsieur le Maire," she cried at last, "I 
thought you were — " 

She stopped ; the conclusion of her sentence would have been 
lacking in respect towards the beginning. Jean Valjean was 
still Monsieur le Maire to her. 

He finished her thought. 

' In prison," said he. ^^I was there ; I broke a bar of one 
of the windows ; I let myself drop from the top of a roof, and 


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tkere I am. I am going up to my room ; go and find Sister 
Sifflplice for me. She is with that poor woman, no doubt.*' 

The old woman obeyed in all haste. 

He gave her no orders ; he was quite sure that she would 
guard him better than he should guard himself. 

No one ever found out how he had managed to get into the 
coortjard without opening the big gates. He had, and always 
carried about him, a pass-key which opened a little side-door ; 
bat he must have been searched, and his latch-key must have 
been taken from him. This point was never explained. 

He ascended the stabrcase leading to his chamber. On arriv- 
ing at the top, he left his candle on the top step of his stairs, 
opened his door with very little noise, went and closed his win- 
dow and his shutters by feeling, then returned for his candle 
and re-entered his room. 

It was a useful precaution ; it will be recollected that his 
window could be seen from the street. 

He cast a glance about him, at his table, at his chair, at his 
bed which had not been disturbed for three days. No trace of 
the disorder of the night before last remained. The portress 
bad *' done up " his room ; only she had picked out of the ashes 
and placed neatly on the table the two iron ends of the cudgel 
and the forty-sou piece which had been blackened by the fire. 

He took a sheet of paper, on which he wrote: *^ These are 
the two tips of my iron-shod cudgel and the forty-sou piece 
stolen from Little Gervais, which I mentioned at the Court of 
Assizes," and he arranged this piece of paper, the bits of iron, 
tnd the coin in such a way that they were the first things to be 
seen on entering the room. From a cupboard he pulled out 
one of bis old shirts, which he tore in pieces. In the strips 
of linen thus prepared he wrapped the two silver candlesticks. 
He betrayed neither haste nor agitation ; and while he was 
wrapping up the Bishop's candlesticks, he nibbled at a piece 
of black bread. It was probably the prison-bread which he had 
carried with him in his flight. 

This was pi'oved by the crumbs which were found on the floor 
of the room when the authorities made an examination later on. 

There came two taps at the door. 

"Come in," said he. 

It was Sister Simplice. 

She was pale ; her eyes were red ; the candle which she carried 
trembled in her hand. The peculiar feature of the violences of 
destiny is, that however polished or cool we may be, they wring 
bamau nature from our very bowels, and force it to reappear on 


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the surface. The emotionB of that day had tamed the nu^ 
into a woman once more. She had wept, and she was trem 

Jean Val jean had just finished writing a few lines on a paper, 
which he handed to the nun, saying, ^^ Sister, you will give this 
*o Monsieur le Cui-é." 

The paper was not folded. She cast a glance upor it 

'' You can read it," said he. 

She read : — 

'^I beg Monsieur le Curé to keep an eye on all that I leave 
oehiud nie. He will be so good as to pay out of it the ex\mv 
ses of my trial, and of the funeral of the woman who died ves 
terdîiy. The rest is for the poor.*' 

The sister tried to S|)eak, bn^ she only managed to stammer s 
few inarticulate sounds. She succeeded in saying, however: - 

*'^ Does not Monsieur le Maire desire to take a last look at 
that poor, unhappy woman?" 

*' No," said he ; ^' I am pursued ; it would only end in their 
arresting me in that room, and that would disturb her." 

He had hardly finished when a loud noise became audible on 
the staircase. They heard a tumult of ascending footstepd. 
and the old portress saying in her loudest and most piercioii; 
tones : — 

*' My good sir, I swear to you by the good God, that not a 
soul has entered this house all day, nor all the evening, and 
that I have not even left the door." 

A man resi)onded : — 

*• But there is a light in that room, nevertheless." 

They recognized Javert's voice. 

The chamber was so arranged that the door in oi)ening 
masked the corner of the wall on the right. Jeun Val jean bk» 
out the light and placed himself in this angle. 

Sister Siinplice fell on her knees near the table. 

The d(X)r o[)ened. 

J avert entered. 

The whispers of many mon and the protestations of tbe 
portress were audible in the corridor. 

Tlie nun did not raise her eyes. She was praying. 

The caudle was on the chimney-piece, and gave but ven* litfip 

Javert canght sight of the nun and halted in amazement 

Tt will be remembered that the fuudamoutal point in Javert. 
nis element, the very air he bn^athed, was veneration for al^ 
ftuthority. Thss was impregnable, and admitted of neither ' b 


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JectîoD nor restriction. In his eyes, of course, the ecciesiastica 
authority was the chiet of all ; he was religious, superficial and 
correct on this point as on all others. In his C3'es, a priest was 
a mind, who never makes a mistake; a nun was a creature 
who never sius ; they were souls walled in from this world, witb 
a single door which never opened except to allow the truth tc 
pass through. 

On perceiving the sister, his first movement was to retire 

But there was also another duty which bound him an.l im 
peiled him imperiousl}' in the opposite direction. His seconc 
movement was to remain and to ventuix) on at least one question 

This was Sister Slmplice, who had never told a lie in her life 
Javert knew it, and held her in special veneration in conse 

" Sister,** said he, " are you alone in this room ? " 

A terrible moment ensued, during which the poor portreai 
felt as though she should faint. 

The sister raised her eyes and answered : — 


**Then," resumed Javert, **you will excuse me if I persist, 
it is my duty; you have not seen a certain person — a man - 
this evening? He has escaped; we are in search of him — tiMrt 
Jean Valjean ; you have not seen him ? *' 

The sister replied : — 


She lied. She had lied twice in succession, one after the 
other, without hesitation, promptly, as a person does when sao 
rificing herself. 

" Pardon me,** said Javert, and he retired with a deep bow. 

sainted maid ! you left this world many years ago i you 
have rejoined your sisters, the virgins, and your brothers, the 
auj^els, in the light ; may this lie be counted to your credit ic 
paradise I 

The sister's afidrmation was for Javert so decisive a thing 
tijut he did not even observe the singularity of that candle 
which had but just been extinguished, and which was still 
smoking on the table. 

An hour later, a man, marching amid trees and mists, wa« 
rapidly departing from M. sur M. in the direction of Paris. 
That man was Jean Valjean. It has been established by the 
tentimony of two or three caii;ers who met him, that he was 
carrying a bundle ; that he was dressed in a blouse. Whers 
bad he obtained that blouse ? No one ever found out. But ao 
3ged workman had died in the infirmary of the factory a lew 


days before, leaving behind liim nothing but his blouse. Pe> 
haps that was the one. 

One last word about Fantine. 

We all have a mother, — the earth. Fantine was given back 
to that mother. 

The curé thought that he was doing right, and perhaps be 
really was, in reserving as much money as possible from what 
.lean Valjean had left for the poor. Who was concerned, after 
all ? A convict and a woman of the town. That is why he had 
a very simple funeral for Fantine, and reduced it to that strictly 
necessary form known as the pauper's grave. 

So Fantine was buried in the free corner of the cemetery 
which belongs to anybody and everybody, and where the |)oor 
are lost. Fortunately, God knows where to find the soul again. 
Fantine was laid in the shade, among the first bones that came 
to hand ; she was subjected to the promiscuousness of ashes. 
She was thrown into the public grave. Her grave resembled 
her bed 


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1. —What is met wrm on the Way from Nivelle». 

Last year (1861), on a beautiful May morning, a traveller, 
the person who is telling this storv, was coining from Nivelles, 
and directing his course towards La Hulpe. He was on foot. 
He was pursuing a broad paved road, which undulated between 
two rows of trees, over the hills which succeed each other, raise 
the road and let it fall again, and produce something in the 
nature of enormous waves. 

He bad passed Lillois and Bois-Seigneur-Isaac. In the wesfc 
he perceived the slate- roofed tower of Braine-rAlleud, which 
has the form of a reversed vase. He had just left behind a 
wood upon an eminence ; and at the angle of the cross-road, by 
the side of a sort of mouldy gibbet bearing the inscription 
Ancient Btirrier No. 4, a public house, bearing on^its front this 
sign : At tJie Four Winds (Aux Quatre Vents). Echabeau^ Pri- 
vate Café. 

A quarter of a league further on, he arrived at the bottom of 
a little valley, where there is water which passes beneath au 
arch made through the embankment of the road. The clump 
of sparsely t>lft"ted but very green trees, which fills the valley 
on one side of the road, is dispersed over the meadows on the 
other, and disappears gracefully and as in disorder in the direc- 
tion of BrRine-l'AUeud. 

On the right, close to the road, was an inn, with a four-wheeled 
cart at the door, a large bundle of hop- poles, a plough, a heap 
of dried brushwood near a flourishing hedge, lime smoking in 
a square hole, and a ladder suspended along an old penthouse 
with straw partitions. A young girl was weoding in a field, 
where a huge yellow poster, probably of some outside spectacle, 
sach a« a parish festival, was flntterins; in the wind. At oniB 


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corner of the inn, beside a pool in which a flotilla of ducks waa 
navigating, a badly paved path phmgcd into the bushes. The 
wayfarer struck into tliis. 

After traversing a hundred paces, skirting a wall of the fif- 
teenth century, surmounted by a pointed gable, with bricks set 
in contrast, he found himself before a large door of arched stone, 
with a rectilinear impost, in the sombre style of Louis XIV., 
flanked by two flat medallions. A severe façade rose above 
this door ; a wall, perpendicular to the facade, almost touched 
the door, and flanked it with an abrupt right angle. In tlie 
meadow before the door lay three harrows, through which, in 
disorder, grew all the flowers of May. The door was closed. 
The two decrepit leaves which barred it were ornamented with 
an old rusty knocker. 

The sun was charming ; the branches had that soft shivering 
of May, which seems to proceed rather from the nests than from 
the wind. A brave little binl, probably a lover, was carolling 
in a distracted manner in a large tree. 

The wayfarer bent over and examined a rather large circular 
excavation, resembling the hollow of a sphere, in the stone on 
the left, at the foot of the pier of the door. 

At this moment the leaves of the door paited, and a peasant 
woman emerged. 

She saw the wayfarer, and perceived what he was looking at. 

'* It was a French cannon-ball which made that," she said to 
him. And she added : — 

" That which you see there, higher up in the door, near a 
nail, is the hole of a big iron bullet as large as an egg. The 
bullet did not pierce the wood." 

" What is the name of this place?" inquired the wayfarer. 

*' Hougomont," said the peasant woman. 

The traveller straightened himself up. He walked on a few 
paces, and went off to look over the tops of the hedges. On the 
horizon, through the trees, he perceived a sort oflibkle elevation, 
and on this elevation something which at that distance resembled 
\ lion. 

He was on the battle-field of Waterloo. 

n. — Hougomont. 

Hougomont, — this was a funereal spot, the beginning of the 
obstacle, the first resistance, which that great wood-cutter of 
Europe, called Napoleon, encountered at Waterloo, the first 
knot under the blows of his axe. 


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It was a châteaa ; it is no longer anything but a farm. Fof 
the antiquary, Hougomont is Ilugomons. Tiiis manor was 
built by Ilugo, Sire of Somorel, the same wlio endowed the sixth 
chaplaincy of the Abbey of Villiers. 

The traveller pushed open the door, elbowed an ancient calash 
ander the porch, and entered the courtyard. 

The first thing which struck him in this paddock was a dooi 
af the sixteenth century, which here simulates an arcade, every^ 
thing else having fallen prostrate around it. A monumental 
aspect often has its birth in ruin. Tn a wall near the arcade 
opens another arched door, of the time of Henry IV., permitting 
a glimpse of the trees of an orchard ; beside this door, a manure- 
hole, some pickaxes, some shovels, some carts, an old well, 
with its flagstone and its iron reel, a chicken jumping, and a 
turkey spreading its tail, a chapel surmounted by a small bell- 
tower, a blossoming pear-tree trained in espalier against the 
wall of the chapel — behold the court, tfie conquest of which 
was one of Napoleon's dreams. This corner of earth, could he 
but have seized it, would, perhaps, have given him the world 
likewise. Chickens are scattering its dust abroad with their 
beaks. A growl is audible ; it is a huge dog, who shows his 
teeth and replaces the English. 

The English behaved admirably there. Cooke's four com- 
panies of guards there held out for seven hours against the 
fury of an arm^'. 

Hougomont viewed on the map, as a geometrical plan, com- 
prising buildings and enclosures, presents a sort of irregular 
rectangle, one angle of which is nicked out. It is this angle 
which contains the southern door, guarded by this wall, which 
commands it only a gun's length away. Hougomont has two 
doors, — the southern door, that of the château ; and the north- 
em door, belonging to the farm. Napoleon sent his brother 
Jérôme against Hougomont; the divisions of Foy, Guillcminot, 
And Bachelu hurled themselves against it; nearly the entire 
corps of Reille was employed against it, and miscarried ; 
Kellermann's balls were exhausted on this heroic section of 
wall. Bauduin's brigade was not strong enough to force Hougo- 
mont on the north, and the brigade of Soye could not do more 
than effect the beginning of a breach on the south, but without 
taking it. 

The farm buildings border the courtyard on the south. A 
bit of the north door, broken by the French, hangs suspeiTdecl 
to the wall. It consists of four planks nailed to two cross 
beams, on which the scars of the attack arc visible. 


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The northern door, which was beaten in by the French, and 
whicii lias had a piece applied to it to replace the panel sus- 
pended on the wall stands half-open at the bottom of the pad- 
dock ; it is cut squarely in the wall, built of stone below, of 
brick above, which closes in the courtyard on the north. It is 
a simple door for carts, such as exist in all farms, with the two 
large leaves made of rustic planks : beyond lie the meadows. 
The dispute over this entrance was furious. For a long time, 
all sorts of imprints of bloody hands were visible on the door- 
posts. It was there that Bauduin was killed. 

The storm of the combat still lingers in this courtyard ; its hor- 
ror is visible there ; the confusion of the fray was petrified there ; 
it lives and it dies there ; it was only yesteixlay. The walls are 
in the death agony, the stones fall ; the breaches cry aloud ; the 
holes are wounds; the drooping, quivering trees seem to be 
making an effort to flpe. 

This courtyard was more built up in 1815 than it is to-day. 
Buildings which have since been pulled down, then formed 
redans and angles. 

The English barricaded themselves there ; the French made 
their way in, but could not stand their ground. Beside the 
chapel, one wing of the château, the only ruin now remaining 
of the manor of Ilougomont, rises in a crumbling state, — disem- 
bowelled, one might say. The château served for a dnngeon, 
the chapel for a block-house. There men exterminated each 
other. The French, fired on from every point, — from behind 
the walls, from the summits of the garrets, from the depths of 
the cellars, through all the casements, through all the air-holes, 
through every crack in the stones, — fetched fagots and set fire 
to walls and men ; the reply to the grape-shot was a conflagration. 

In the ruined wing, through windows garnished with bars of 
iron, the dismantled chambers ot the main building of brick are 
visible ; the English guards were in ambush in these rooms ; 
the spiral of the staircase, cracked from the ground floor to the 
very i-oof, appears like the inside of a broken shell. The stair- 
case has two stories ; the English, besieged on the staircase, 
and massed on its upper steps, had cut off the lower steps. 
These consisted of large slabs of blue stone, which form a heap 
among tlie nettles. Half a score of steps still cling to the 
wall ; on the first is cut the figure of a trident. These inacces- 
sible steps are solid in their niches. All the rest resembles a 
Jaw* which has been denuded of its teeth. There are two old 
trees there : one is dead ; the other is wounded at its base, and 
Is clothed with verdure in April. Since 1815 it has taken to 
growing through the staireafl^ 

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A massacre took place in the chapel. The interior, which has 
recovered its calm, is singular. The mass has not been said there 
since the carnage. Nevertheless, the altar has been left there — 
an altar of unpolished wood, placed against a background of 
roughhewn stone. Four whitewashed walls, a door opposite the 
altar, two small arched windows ; over the door a large wooden 
crucifix, below the crucifix a square air-hole stopped up with a 
bundle of hay ; on the ground, in one corner, an old window- 
frame with the glass all broken to pieces — such is the chapel. 
Near the altar there is nailed up a wooden statue of Saint Anne, 
of the fifteenth century ; the head of the infant Jesus has been 
carried off by a large ball. The French, who were masters of 
the chapel for a moment, and were then dislodged, set fire to it. 
The flames filled this building ; it was a perfect furnace ; the 
door was burned, the floor was burned, the wooden Christ wa« 
not burned. The fire preyed upon his feet, of which only tht» 
blackened stumps are now to be seen ; then it stopped, — u 
miracle, according to the assertion of the people of the neigh- 
)K>rl)ood. The infant Jesus, decapitated, was less fortunate 
than the Christ. 

The walls are covered with inscriptions. Near the feet of 
Christ this name is to be read : Henquinez. Then these others : 
Conde de Rio Maior Marques y Marquesa de Almagro {Hor- 
bana) . There are French names with exclamation points, — a 
sign of wrath. The wall was freshly whitewashed in 1849. 
The nations insulted each other there. 

It was at the door of this chapel that the corpse was picked 
up which held an axe in its hand ; this corpse was Sub-Lieuten- 
ant Legros. 

On emerging from the chapel, a well is visible on the left. 
There are two in this courtyard. One inquires, Why is there 
no bucket and pulley to this? It is because water is no longer 
:lrawn there. Why is water not drawn there? Because it is 
lull of skeletons. 

The last person who drew water from the well was named 
Guillaume van Kylsom. He was a peasant who lived at Hougo- 
mont, and was gardener there. On the 18th of June, 1815, his 
family fled and concealed themselves in the woods. 

The forest surrounding the Abbey of Villiers sheltered these 
unfortunate people who had been scattered abroad, for many 
days and nights. There are at this day certain traces recog- 
nizable, such as old boles of burned trees, which mark the 
site of these poor bivouacs trembling in the depths of the 


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Guillaume van Kylsom remained at Hougomont, '*to gnafâ 
the château," and concealed himself in the cellar. The English 
discovered him there. They tore him from his hiding-place, and 
the combatants forced this frightened man to serve them, b; 
administrating blows with the flats of their swords. The}- were 
thirsty ; this Guillaume brought them water. It was from this 
well that he drew it. Many drank there their last draught. 
Tliis well where drank so many of the dead was destined tc 
die itself. 

After the engagement, they were in haste to bury the dead 
bodies. Death has a fashion of harassing victor}', and she 
causes the pest to follow glory. The typhus is a concomitant 
of triumph. This well was deep, and it was turned into a 
sepulchre. Three hundred dead bodies were cast into it 
With too much haste perhaps. Were they all dead? Legend 
says they wore not. It seems that on the night succeeding the 
interment, feeble voices were heard calling from the well. 

This well is isolated in the middle of the courtyard. Three 
walls, part stone, part brick, and simulating a small, square 
tower, and folded like the leaves of a screen, surround it on ftll 
sides. The fourth side is open. It is there that the water was 
drawn. The wall at the bottom has a sort of shapeless loop- 
hole, possibly the hole made by a shell. This little tower had 
a platform, of which only the beams remain. The iron supix>rts 
of the well on the right form a cross. On leaning over, the eye 
is lost in a deep cylinder of brick which is filled with a heaped- 
np mass of shadows. The base of the walls all about the well 
is concealed in a growth of nettles. 

This well has not in front of it that large blue slab which 
forms the table for all wells in Belgium. The slab has here 
been replaced by a cross-beam, against which lean five or 
six shapeless fragments of knotty and petrified wood which 
resemble huge bones. There is no longer either pail, chain, 
or pulley ; but there is still the stone basin which served the 
overflow. The rain-water collects there, and from time to time 
a bird of the neighboring forests comes thither to drink, and 
then flies away. One house in this ruin, the farmhouse, is 
still inhabited. The door of this house opens on the courtyard. 
Upon this door, beside a pretty gothic lock-plate, there is an 
iron handle with trefoils placed slanting. At the moment when 
the Hanoverian lieutenant, Wilda, grasped this handle in order 
to take refuge in the farm, a French sa]>per hewed off his hand 
with an axe. 

The family who occupy the house had for their grandfathei 


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Guillaume van Kjlsoin, the old gardener, dead long since. A 
woman with gray hair said to us : "I was there. I was three 
years old. My sister, who was older, was terrified and wept, 
riiey carried us off to the woods. I went there in my mother's 
arms. We glued our ears to the earth to hear. I imitated the 
cannon, and went bouin ! bourn ! *' 

A door opening from the courtyard on the left led into the 
irchard, so we were told. The orchaixl is terrible. 

It is in three parts; one might almost say, in three acts. 
The fiiTst part is a gai-den, the second is an orchard, the third is 
4 wood. These three parts have a common enclosure : on the 
side of the entrance, the buildings of the château and the farm ; 
on the left, a hedge; on the right, a wall; and at the end, a 
wall. The wall on the right is of brick, the wall at the bottom 
is of stone. One enters the garden first. It slopes downwards, 
is planted with goosebeiTy bushes, choked with a wild growth 
of vegetation, and terminated by a monumental terrace of cut 
stone, with balustrade with a double cur\'e. 

It was a seignorial garden in the first French style which 
preceded Le Nôtre ; to-da}' it is ruins and briars. The pilasters 
are surmounted by globes which resemble cannon-balls of stone. 
Fprty-three balusters can still be counted on their sockets ; the 
rest lie prostrate in the gi-ass. Almost all bear scratches of 
bullets. One broken baluster is placed on the pediment like a 
fractured leg. 

It was in this garden, further down than the orchard, that 
six light-infantry men of the 1st, having made their way thither, 
and being unable to escape, hunted down and caught like bears 
in their dens, accepted the combat with two Hanoverian com- 
panies, one of which was armed with carbines. Tlie Hanove- 
rians lined this balustrade and fired from above. The infantry 
men, rei)lying from below, six against two hundred, intrepid 
and with uo shelter save the currant-bushes, took a quarter of 
in hour to die. 

One mounts a few steps and passes from the garden into the 
jrchard, properly speaking. There, within the limits of those few 
aqnare fathoms, fifteen hundred men fell in less than an hour» 
The wall seems ready to renew the combat. Thirty-eight loop- 
holes, pierced by the English at irregular heights, are there 
still. In front of the sixth are placed two English tombs of 
granite. There are loopholes only in the south wall, as the 
|)rincipal attack came from that quarter. The wall is hidden 
on the outside by a tall hedge ; the French came up, thinking 
that they had to deal only with a hedge, crossed it, and found 


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Ilie wall both an obstacle and an ambuscade, with the English 
Guards belùrul it, the thirty-eight loopholes firing at once a 
shower of grape-shot and balls, and Soye's brigade wa^ broken 
against it. Thus Waterloo began. 

Nevertheless, the orchard was taken. As they had no lad- 
ders, the French scaled it with their nails. They fought hand 
to hand amid the trees. All this grass has been soaked in 
blood. A battalion of Nassau, seven hundred strong, was 
overwhelmed there. The outside of the wall, against which 
Kellermann's two batteries were trained, is gnawed by grape 

This orchard is sentient, like others, in the month of May. 
It lias its buttercups and its daisies ; the grass is tall there ; 
the cart-horses browse there ; cords of hair, on which linen is 
drying, traverse the spaces between the trees and force the 
passer-by to bend his head ; one walks over this uncultivated 
land, and one's foot dives into mole-holes. In the middle of 
the grass one observes an uprooted tree-bole which lies there 
all verdant. Major Blackmann leaned against it to die. Be- 
neath a great tree in the neighborhood fell the German general, 
Duplat, descended from a French family which fled on the 
revocation of the Edict of Nantes. An aged and falling apple- 
tree leans far over to one side, its wound dressed with a band- 
age of straw and of clayey loam. Nearly all the apple-trees 
are falling with age. There is not one which has not had its 
bullet or its biscayan.^ The skeletons of dead trees abound in 
this orchai-d. Crows fly through their branches, and at the end 
of it is a wood full of violets. 

Bauduin killed, Foy wounded, conflagration, massacre, car- 
nage, a rivulet formed of English blood, French blood, German 
blood mingled in fury, a well crammed with corpses, the regi- 
ment of Nassau and the regiment of Brunswick destroyeil, 
Duplat killed, Blackmann killed, the English Guards mi\tiiated, 
twenty French battalions, besides the forty from Reille's corjxs, 
decimated, three thousand men in that hovel of Hougomont 
alone cut down, slashed to pieces, shot, burned, with their 
throats cut, — and all this so that a peasant can say to-day to the 
traveller: Monsieur^ give me three franchi ^ and if you like^ IwiU 
wplain to you the affair of Waterloo ! 

^ A ballet as larj^e as an «g|p 


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III. — The Eighteenth op June, 1815. 

Let us turn back, — that is one of the story-teller's rights,— 
md put ourselves once more in the year 181Ô, and even a little 
aarlier than the epoch when the action narrated in the first part 
)f this book took place. 

If it had not rained in the night between the 17th and the 18th 
>f June, 1815, the fate of Europe would have been different. A 
few drops of water, more or less, decided the downfall of Napo- 
leon. All that Providence required in order to make Waterloo 
the end of Austerlitz was a little more rain, and a clond travers- 
ing the sky out of season sufficed to make a world crumble. 

The battle of Waterloo could not be begun until half-past- 
eleven o'clock, and that gave Blticher time to come up. Why? 
Because the gi-ound was wet. The artillery bad to wait until it 
became a little firmer before they could manœuvre. 

Napoleon was an artillery officer, and felt the effects of this. 
The foundation of this wouderftil captain was the man who, 
in the report to the Directory on Aboukir, said: Such a 
one of our balls killed six men. All his plans of battle were 
arranged for projectiles. The key to his victory was to make 
the artillery converge on one point. He treated the strat- 
egy of the hostile general like a citadel, and made a breach 
in it. He overwhelmed the weak point with grape-shot ; he joined 
and dissolved battles with cannon. There was something of 
the sharpshooter in his genius. To beat in squares, to pulver- 
ize regiments, to break lines, to crush and disperse masses, — 
for him everything lay in this, to strike, strike, strike inces- 
santly, — and he intrusted this task to the cannon-ball. A 
redoubtable method, and one which, united with genius, ren- 
dered this gloomy athlete of the pugilism of war invincible for 
die space of fifteen years. 

On the 18th of June, 1815, he relied all the more on his 
artillery, because he had numbers on his side. Wellington had 
only one hundred and fifty-nine months of fire ; Napoleon had 
two hundred and forty. 

Snppose the soil dry, and the artillery capable of moving, 
the action would have begun at six o^clock in the morning. 
The battle would have been won and ended at two o'clock, 
three hours before the change of fortune in favor of the Prns* 
Bian8. Wliat amount of blame attaches to Napoleon for the 
loes of this battle? Is the shipwreck due to the pilot? 


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Was it the evident physical decline of Napoleon that com 
plicated this epoch by au inward diminution of force? Had 
the twenty years of war worn out the blade as it had worn the 
scabbard, the soul as wc4l as the b(xly? Did the veteran 
make himself disastrously felt in the leader? In a woi*d, was 
this genius, as many historians of note have thought, suffering 
fi-om an eclipse? Did he go into a frenzy in order to disguise 
his weakened powers from himself ? Did he begin to waver undei 
tlie delusion of a breath of adventure? Had he become — s 
grave matter in a general — unconscious of peril? Is there an 
age, in this class of material great men, who may be called 
the giants of action, when genius grows short-sighted? Old age 
has no hold on the geniuses of the ideal ; for the Dantes and 
Michael Angolos to grow old is to grow in greatness ; is it to 
grow less for the Hannibals and the Bonapartes? Had Napo- 
leon lost the direct sense of victory? Had he reached the point 
where he could no longer recognize the reef, could no longer 
divine tlie snare, no longer discern the crumbling brink of 
abysses? Had he lost his power of scenting out catastrophes? 
He who had in former days known all the roads to triumph, 
and who, from the summit of his chariot of lightning, pointed 
them out with a sovereign finger, had he now reached that state 
of sinister amazement when he could lead his tumultous legions 
harnessed to it, to the precipice? Was he seized at the age of 
forty-six with a supreme madness? Was that titanic charioteer 
of destiny no longer anything more than an immense dare-devil? 

We do not think so. 

His plan of battle was, by the confession of all, a master* 
piece. To go straight to the centre of the Allies' line, to make 
a breach in the enemy, to cut them in two, to drive the British 
iialf back on Hal, and the Prussian half on Tongres, to make 
two shattered fragments of Wellington and Bliicher, to carry 
Mont-Saint-Jean, to seize Brussels, to hurl the German into the 
Rhine, and the Englisliman into the sea. All this was con- 
tained in that battle, according to Napoleon. Afterward» 
people would see. 

Of course, we do not here pretend to furnish a history of the 
battle of Waterloo ; one of the scenes of tiie foundation of the 
story which we are relating is connected with this battle, but 
this history is not our subject ; this history, moreover, has been 
finished, and finished in a masterly- manner, from one point of 
view by Na|X)leon, and from another point of view by a wh<de 
pleiad of historians. ^ 

1 Walter Scott, Lamartine, Vaulabelle, Cbarras, Qoinet, Thien. 


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As for as, we leave the historians at loggerheads ; we ai-e but 
A distant witness, a passer-by on the plain, a seeker beiidin| 
over that soil all made of human flesh, taking appearances for 
realities, perchance ; we have no right to oppose, in the name 
of science, a collection of facts which contain illusions, no 
doubt ; we possess neither military practice nor strategic ability 
which authorize a system; in our opinion, a chain of accidents 
lominated the two leaders at Waterloo ; and when it becomes a 
question of destiny, that mysterious culprit, we judge like that 
ngenious judge, the populace. 

IV. — A. 

Those persons who wish to gain a clear idea of the battle of 
Waterloo have only to place, mentally, on the ground, a capital 
A. The left limb of the A is the road to Nivelles, the right 
limb is the road to Genappe, the tie of the A is the hollow road 
to Ohain from Braine I'Alleud. The top of the A is Mont- 
Saint-Jean, where Wellington is ; the lower left tip is Hougo- 
mont, where Reille is stationed with Jérôme Bonaparte ; the 
right tip is the Belle- Alliance, where Napoleon was. At the 
centre of this chord is the precise point where the final word of 
.the battle was pronounced. It was there that the lion has been 
placed, the involuntary symbol of the supreme heroism of the 
Imperial Guard. 

The triangle included in the top of the A, between the two 
limbs and the tie, is the plateau of Mont-Saint- Jean. The 
dispute over this plateau constituted the whole battle. The 
wings of the two armies extended to the right and left of the 
two roads to Genappe and Nivelles ; d'Erlon facing Picton, 
Reille facing Hill. 

Behind the tip of the A, behind the plateau of Mont-Saint- 
Jean, is the forest of Soignes. 

As for the plain itself, let the reader picture to himself a vast 
undulating sweep of ground ; each rise commands the next rise, 
and all the undulations mount towards Mont- Saint- Jean, and 
there end in the forest. 

Two hostile troops on a field of battle are two wrestlers. It 
is a question of seizing the opponent round the waist. The one 
seeks to trip up the other. They clutch at everything; a bush 
ts a point of support ; an angle of the wall offers them a rest t^ 
the shoulder ; for the lack of a hovel under whose cover they 
ean draw op, a regiment yields its ground ; an uneyennoss in tb^ 


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ground, a chance turn in the landscape, a ci*oss-path encoan 
tered at tlie right moment, a grove, a ravine, can stay the heel 
of that colossus whicli is called an army, and prevent its retreat. 
He who quits the field is beaten ; hence the necessity devolving 
on the responsible loader, of examining the most insignificant 
clump of trees, and of studying deeply the slightest relief in the 

The two generals had attentively studied the plain of Mont- 
Saint-Jean, now called the plain of Waterloo. In the preceding 
year, Wellington, with the sagacity of foresight, had examinee* 
it as the possible seat of a great battle. Upon this spot, and 
for this duel, on the 18th of June, Wellington had the good 
post. Napoleon the bad post. The English army was stationed 
above, the French army below. 

It is almost superfluous here to sketch the appearance of 
Napoleon on horseback, glass in hand, upon the heights of Ros- 
somme, at daybreak, on June 18, 1815. All the world has 
seen him before we can show him. That calm profile nnder the 
little three-cornered hat of the school of Brienne, that green 
uniform, the white revers concealing the star of the Legion of 
Honor, his great coat hiding his epaulets, the corner of red 
ribbon peeping from beneath his vest, his leather trousers, the 
white horse with the saddle-cloth of purple velvet bearing on 
the corners crowned N's and eagles, Hessian boots over silk 
stockings, silver spurs, the sword of Marengo, — that whole 
figure of the last of the Cfleaars is present to all imaginations, 
saluted with acclamations by some, severely regarded by others. 

That figure stood for a long time wholly in the light; this 
arose from a certain legendary dimness evolved by the majority 
of heroes, and which always veils the truth for a longer or 
shorter time ; but to-day history and daylight have arrived. 

That light called history is pitiless ; it iKJSsesaes this peenliar 
and divine quality, that, pure light as it is, and precisely be- 
cause it is wholly light, it often casts a shadow in places where 
people had hitherto beheld rays ; from the same man it con- 
Btructs two différent phantoms, and the one attacks the other 
and executes justice on it, and the shadows of the despot con- 
tend with the brilliancy of the leader. Hence arises a truer 
measure in the definitive judgments of nations. Babylon vio- 
lated lessens Alexander, Rome enchained lessens Caesar, Jeru- 
salem murdered lessens Titus, tyranny follows the tyrant. II 
is a misforttme for a man to leave behind him the night which 
bears his form. 


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V. — The Quid Obscurum op Battles. 

Evert one is acquainted with the first phase of this battle ; a 
beginning which was troubled, uncertain, hesitating, menacing 
to both armies; but still more so for the English than for the 

It had rained all night, the earth had been cut up by the 
down-iX)ur, the water had accumulated here and there in the 
hollows of the plain as if in casks ;* at some points the gear of 
the artillery carriages was buried up to the axles, the circingles 
of the horses were dripping with liquid mud. If the wheat and 
rye trampled down by this cohort of transports on the march 
had not filled in the ruts and strewn a litter beneath the wheels, 
all movement, particularly in the valleys, in the direction of 
Papelotte would have been imi)08sible. 

The affair began late. Napoleon, as we have already ex- 
plained, was in the habit of keeping all his artillery well in 
hand, like a pistol, aiming it now at one point, now at another, 
of the battle ; and it had been his wish to wait until the horse 
batteries could move and gallop freely. In order to do that it 
was necessary that the sun should come out and dry the soil. 
But the sun did not make its appearance. It was no longer 
the rendezvous of Austerlitz. When the first cannon was fired, 
the English general. Col ville, looked at his watch, and noted 
that it was thirty -five minutes past eleven. 

The action was begun furiously, with more fury, perhaps, 
than the Emperor would have wished, by the left wing of the 
French resting on Hougomont. At the same time Napoleon 
attacked the centre by hurling Quiot's brigade on La Haie-Sainte, 
and Ney pushed forward the right wing of the French against 
the left wing of the English, which rested on Pai)elotte. 

The attack on Hougomont was something of a feint ; the plan 
was to draw Wellington thither, and to make him swerve to the 
left. This plan would have succeeded if the four companies 
of the English guards and the brave Belgians of Perponcher's 
division had not held the position solidly, and Wellington, 
instead of massing his troops there, could confine himself to 
despatching thither, as reinforcements, only four more companies 
of guards and one battalion from Brunswick. 

The attack of the right wing of the French on Papelotte was 
calculated, in fact, to overthrow the Enj^lish left, to cut off the 
road to Brussels, to bar the passage against possible Prussians, 
(O force Mont-Saint-Jean, to turn Wellington back on Houga 


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mont, thencc on Braîue-rAlleud, thencc on liai ; nothing easiee 
With the exception of a few incidents tliis attack succeeded 
Pape lotte was taken ; La Ilaie-Sîiinte was earned. 

X detail to be noted. TUeic was in the English iufantrv, 
particularly in Kemi)t's brigade, a great many raw recruits. 
These young soldiers were valiant in the presence of our re- 
loubtable infantry ; their inexperience extricated them intrepidly 
Tom the dilemma ; they performed particularly excellent ser 
/ice as skirmishers : the soldier skinnisher, left somewhat to 
limself, becomes, so to speak, his own general. These recruits 
lisplayed some of the Freiîch ingenuity and fury. This novice 
of an infantry- had dash. This displeased Wellington. 

After the taking of La Haie-Sainte the battle wavered. 

There is in this day an obscure interval, from mid-day to 
four o*clock ; the middle portion of this battle is almost indis- 
tinct, and participates in the sombreness of the hand-to-hand 
conflict. Twilight reigns over it. We perceive vast fluctaa-» 
tions in that fog, a dizzy mirage, paraphernalia of war almost 
unknown to-day, pendant colbacks, floating sabre-taches, cross- 
belts, cartridge-boxes for grenades, hussar dolmans, red boots 
with a thousand wrinkles, heavy shakos garlanded with tor- 
sades, the almost black infantry of Brunswick mingled with 
ihe scarlet infantry of England, the English soldiers with great, 
white circular pads on the slopes of their shoulders for epaulets* 
the Hanoverian light-horse with their oblong casques of leather, 
with brass hands and red horse-tails, the Scotch with their bare 
knees and plaids, the great white gaiters of our grenadiers; 
pictures, not strategic lines — what Salvator Rosa requires, not 
what is suited to the needs of Gribeauval. 

A certain amount of tempest is always minglod with a battle. 
Quid obsciwum^ quid divinum. Each historian traces, to some 
extent, the particular feature which pleases-him amid this pell- 
mell. Whatever may be the combinations of the generals, the 
shock of armed masses has an incalculable ebb. During the 
iction the plans of the two leaders enter into each other and be- 
come mutuall}' thrown out of shape. Such a point of the field 
of battle devours more combatants than such another, just as 
more or less spongy soils soak up more or less quickly the 
water which is poured on them. It becomes necessary to pour 
out more soldiers than one would like ; a scries of expenditures 
which are the unforeseen. The line of battle waves and undn- 
lates like a thread, the trails of blood gush illogically, the fronta 
of the armies waver, the regiments form capes and gulfs as 
Uiey enter and withdraw ; all these reefs are continuallj moving 


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tu front of each other. Where the infantry stood the artillery 
arrives, the cavaky rushes in where the artillery was, the battal- 
ions are like smoke. There was something there ; seek it. It 
has disappeared ; the open spots change place, the sombre folds 
advance and retreat, a sort of wind from the sepulchre pushes 
forward, hurls back, distends, and disperses these tragic multi- 
tudes. What is a fray? an oscillation? The immobility of a 
mathematical plan expresses a minute, not a day. In order to 
depict a battle, there is required one of those powerful painters 
who have chaos in their brushes. Rembrandt is better than 
Vandermeulen ; Vandermeulen, exact at noon, lies at three 
o'clock. Geometry is deceptive ; the hurricane alone is trust- 
worthy. That is what confers on Folard the right to contra- 
dict Polybius. Let us add, that there is a certain instant when 
the battle degenerates into a combat, becomes specialized, and 
disi:)erscs into innumerable detailed feats, which, to boiTOw the 
expression of Napoleon himself, ^^ belong rather to the biog- 
raphy of the regiments than to the history of the army." The 
historian has, in this case, the evident right to sum up the whole. 
He cannot do more than seize the principal outlines of the strug- 
gle, and it is not given to any one narrator, however conscien- 
tious he may be, to fix, absolutely, the form of that horrible 
cloud which is called a battle. 

This, which is true of all great armed encounters, is par* 
ticularl3' applicable to Waterloo. 

Nevertheless, at a certain moment in the afternoon the battle 
came to a point. 

VI. — Four o'clock in the Afternoon. 

Towards four o'clock the condition of the English army was 
serious. The Prince of Orange was in Qommand of the centre. 
Hill of the right wing, Picton of the left wing. The Prince of 
Orange, desperate and intrepid, shouted to the HoUando-Bel- 
gians: "Nassau! Brunswick! Never retreat ! " Hill, having 
been weakened, had come up to the support of Wellington : 
Picton was dead. At the very moment when the English had 
captured from the French the flag of the 105th of the line, the 
Fi-ench had killed the English general, Picton, with a bullet 
through the head. The battle had, for Wellington, two bases 
of action, Hougomont and La Haie-Sainte ; Hougomont still 
held out, but was on fire; La Haie-Sainte was taken. Of the 
German battalion which defended it, only forty-two men sur' 


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vived ; ail the officers, except five, were either dead or captnred 
riiree thousand combatants had been massacred in tliat barn. 
A sergeant of the Knglish Guards, the foremost boxer in Eng- 
land, reputed invulnerable by his companions, had been killed 
there by a little French drummer- boy. Baring had been dis- 
lodged, Alten put to the sword. Many flags had been lost, one 
from Alten*s division, atïd one from the battalion of Lunenburg, 
carried b}* a prince of the house of Deux-Ponts. The Scotch 
(îrays no longer existed ; Ponsonby's great dragoons had been 
hacked to pieces. That valiant cavalry had bent beneath the 
lancers of Bro and beneath the cuirassiers of Travers ; out of 
twelve hundred horses, six hundred remained ; out of three 
lieutenant-colonels, two hi}* on the earth, — Hamilton wounded. 
Mater slain. Ponsonby had fallen, riddled by seven lance- 
thrusts. Gordon was dead. Marsh was dead. Two divisions, 
the fifth andtUie sixth, had been annihilated. 

Hougomont injured, La Haie-Saint taken, there now existed 
but one rallying-point, the centre. That point still held firm. 
Wellington reinforced it. He summoned thither Hill, who was at 
Merle-Braine ; he summoned Chassé, who was at Braine-rAlleud. 

The centre of the English army, rather concave, very dense, 
and very compact, was strongly posted. It occupied the plateau 
of Mont-Saint-Jean, having behind it the village, and in front 
of it the s.ope, which was tolerably steep tlien. It rested on 
that stout stone dwelling which at that time belonged to the 
domain of Nivelles, and which marks the intersection of the 
roads — a pile of the sixteenth century, and so robust that 
the cannon-balls rebounded from it without injuring it. All 
about tlie plateau the English had cut the hedges here and 
there, made embrasures in the hawthorn-trees, thrust the throat 
of a cannot! between two branches, embattled the shrubs. 
There artillery was ambushed in the brushwood. This 
punie labor, incontestably authorized by war, which permits 
iraps, was so well done, that Haxo, who had been despatched 
by the Emperor at nine o'clock in the morning to reconnoitre 
the enemy's batteries, had discovered nothing of it, and had 
returned and reported to Napoleon that there were no obstacles 
except the two fjarricades which barred the road to Nivelles and 
to (rcnapiie. It was at the season when the grain is tall ; on the 
edji:e of the plateau a battalion of Kempt*s brigade, the 95th, 
armed with carabines, was concealed in the tall wheat. 

Thus assured and bnttrcssjcd, the centre of the Anglo-Dutch 
army was well posted. The peril of this position lay in the 
forest of Soignes, then adjoining the field of battle, and inter 


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fiectcd by the ponds of Groenendael and Boitsfort. An army 
could not retreat thither without dissolving ; the regiments would 
have broken up immediately there. The artillery would have 
been lost among the morasses. The retreat, aecoixling to many 
a man versed in the art, — though it is disputed by others, — 
would have been a disorganized Eight. 

To this centre, Wellington added one of Chassé's brigades 
taken from the right wing, and one of Wincke's brigades taken 
from the left wing, plus Clinton's division. To his English, to 
the regiments of Halkett, to the brigades of Mitchell, to the 
guards of Maitland, he gave as reinforcements and aids, the in- 
fantry of Brunswick, Nassau's contingent, Kielmansegg's Han- 
overians, and Ompteda's Germans. This placed twenty-six 
battalions under his hand. The riglU wing^ as Charras says, woa 
thrown back on the centre. An enormous battery was masked by 
sacks of eailh at the spot where there now stands what is called 
the '' Museum of Waterloo." Besides this, Wellington had, be- 
hind a rise in the ground, Somerset's Dragoon Guards, fourteen 
hundred horse strong. It was the remaining half of the justly cele« 
brated English cavalry. Ponsonby destroyed, Somerset remained. 

The battery, which, if completed, would have been almost a 
redoubt, was ranged behind a very low garden wall, backed up 
with a coating of bags of sand and a large slope of earth. This 
work was not finished ; there had been no time to make a pali- 
sade for it. 

Wellington, uneasy but impassive, was on hoi*seback, and 
there remained the whole day in tlic same attitude, a little in 
advance of the old mill of Mont-Saint- Jean, which is still in 
existence, beneath an elm, which an Englishman, an enthusias* 
tic vandal, purchased later on for two hundred francs, cut down, 
and carried off. Wellington was coldly heroic. The bullets 
rained about him. His aide-de-camp, Gordon, fell at his side. 
Lord Hill, pointing to a shell which had burst, said to him : 
*'My lord, what are your orders in case you are killed?" 
**To do like me," replied Wellington. To Clinton he said 
laconically, ^^To hold this spot to the last man." The day 
vas evidentl}' turning out ill. Wellington shouted to his old 
companions of Talavera, of Vittoria, of Salamanca: "Boys, 
can retreat be thought of ? Think of old f^ngland ! " 

Towards four o'clock, the English line drew back. Suddenl]^ 
nothing was visible on the crest of the plateau except the artil- 
lery and the sharpshooters ; the rest had disappeared : the regi- 
ments, dislodged by the shells and the French bullets, retreated 
into the bottom, now intersected by the back road of the farm oi 


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Mont-Saiut-Jean ; a retrograde movement took place, the Ëng 
Hsb front hid itself, Wellington drew back. ^'The begÎDning 
of retreat ! " cried Napoleon. 

VII. — Napoleon in a Good Humor. 

The ËTnperor, though ill and discommoded on horseback b;^ 
A local trouble, iiad never been in a better humor than on thai 
day. His impenetrabilit}' had been smiling ever since the morn 
ing. On the 18th of June, that profound soul masked by mar- 
ble beamed blindly. The man who had been gloomy at Aus- 
terlitz was gay at Waterloo. The greatest favorites of destiny 
make mistakes. Our joys are composed of shadow. The su- 
preme smile is God's alone. 

Ridet Cœsar^ Pompeius Jlebit, said the legionaries of the Ful- 
minatrix Legion. Pompey was not destined to weep on that 
occasion, but it is certain that Cœsar laughed. While explor- 
ing on horseback at one o'clock on the preceding night, in storm 
and rain, in company with Bertrand, the communes in the neigh- 
borhood of Rossomme, satisfied at the sight of the long line of 
the English camp-fires illuminating the whole horizon from 
Frischemont to Braiue-rAllcud, it had seemed to him that fate, 
to whom he had assigned a day on the field of Waterloo, was 
exact to the appointment ; he stopped his horse, and remained 
for some time motionless, gazing at the lightning and listening 
to the tiiundcr ; and this fatalist was heard to cast into the 
darkness this mysterious saving, *' We are in accord." Napo- 
leon was mistaken. They were no longer in accord. 

He took not a moment for sleep ; every instant of that night 
was marked by a joy for him. He travei-sed the line of the 
principal outposts, halting here and there to talk to the senti- 
nels. At half-past two, near the wood of Hougomont, he heard 
the tread of a column on the march ; he thought at the moment 
that it was a retreat on the part of Wellington. He said : *' It 
is the rear-guard of the English getting under way for the pur- 
IK>se of decamping. I will take prisoners the six thousand 
English who have just arrived at Ostend.' He conversed 
expansively ; he regained the animation which he had shown at 
his landing on the first of March, when he pointed out to 
the Grand-Marshal the enthusiastic peasant of the Gulf Jnan, 
and cried, "• Well, Bertrand, here is a reinforcement already ! '" 
On the nii^lit of the 17th to the IHtli of June he rallied WelHng- 
ton. ^^ That little Englishman needs a lesson," said Napoleon 


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The rain redoubled in violence ; the thunder rolled while the 
Emperor was speakiug. 

At half -past three o'clock in the morning, he lost one illusion; 
offlcera who had been despatclied to reconnoitre announced to 
him that the enemy was not making any movement. Nothing 
was stuTing ; not a bivouac-fire had been extinguished ; tlie 
Kiiglisii army was asleep. The silence on earth was ;nofound ; 
the only noise was in the heavens. At four o'clock, a peasant 
was brought in to him by the scouts ; this peasant had served 
as guide to a brigade of English cavalry, probably Vivian's bri- 
gade, which was on its way to take up a position in the village 
of Chain, at the extreme left. At five o'clock, two Belgian 
deserters reported to him that they had just quitted their regi- 
ment, and that the English army was ready for battle. '* So 
much the better ! " exclaimed Napoleon. ''I prefer to overthrow 
them rather than to drive them back." 

In the morning he dismounted in the mud on the slope which 
forms an angle with the Plancenoit road, had a kitchen table 
and a i)easant's chair brought to him from the farm of Ros- 
8omme, seated himself, with a truss of straw for a carpet, and 
Bpread out on the table the chart of tlie battle-field, saying to 
Soult as he did so, " A pretty checker-board." 

In consequence of the rains during the night, the transports 
of provisions, embedded in the soft roads, had not been able 
to arrive by morning ; the soldiera had had no sleep ; they 
W3re wet and fasting. This did not prevent Napoleon from ex- 
claiming cheerfully to Ne^*, ** We have ninety chances out of a 
hundred." At eight o'clock the timperor's breakfast was brought 
to him. He invited many generals to it. During breakfast, it 
was said that Wellington had been to a ball two nights before, in 
Brussels, at the Duchess of Richmond's ; and Soult, a rough 
man of war, with the face of an archbishop, said, ''The ball 
takes place to-day." The Emperor jested with Ney, who said, 
" Wellington will not be so simple as to wait for Your Majesty." 
That was his way, however. '' He was fond of jesting," says 
Fleory de Chaboulon. " A merry humor was at the foundation 
of his character," says Gourgaud. *' He abounded in pleasan- 
tries, which were more peculiar than witty," says Benjamin 
Constant. These gayeties of a giant are worthy of insistance. 
It was he who called his grenadiers " his grumblers " ; he 
pinched their ears ; he pulled their mustaches. '' The Emperor 
did nothing but play pranks on us," is the remark of one of 
them. During the mysterious trip trom the îcland of Elba to 
France, on the 27th of February, on the open sia, the Frencb 


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brig of war, Le Zéphyr^ having encountered the brig Ulncon 

slant ^ on whicli Napoleon was eoucealud, and having asked the 
news of Napoleon from U Inconstant ^^ the Emperor, who still 
wore in his hat the white and amaranthine cockade with 
bees, which he had adopted at the isle of Elba, laughingly 
seized tlie speaking-trumpet, and answered for himself , *'Thc 
Emperor is well." A man who laughs like that is on familiar 
terms with events. Napoleon indulged in many fits of thi£ 
laughter during the breakfast at Waterloo. After breakfast he 
meditated for a quarter of an hour ; then two generals seated 
themselves on the tiuss of straw, pen in hand and their pa|)er 
on their knees, and the Emperor dictated to them tlie order of 

At nine o* clock, at the instant when the French army, ranged 
in echelons and set in motion in five columns, had deployed — 
the divisions in two lines, the artillery between the brigades, the 
music at their head ; as they beat the march, with rolls on tlie 
drums and the blasts of trumpets, mighty, vast, joyous, a sea of 
casques, of sabres, and of bayonets on the horizon, the Empe- 
ror was touched, and twice exclaimed, '* Magnificent I Magnifi- 
cent ! " 

Between nine o'clock and half-past ten the whole army, in- 
credible as it may appear, had taken up its position and ranged 
itself in six lines, forming, to repeat the Emperor's expression, 
*' the figure of six Vs." A few moments after the formation of 
the battle-array, in the midst of that profound silence, like that 
which heralds the beginning of a storm, which precedes engage- 
ments, the îiraperor tapped llaxo on the shoulder, as he beheld 
the three batteries of twelve-pounders, detached by his ordera 
from the corps of P>lon, R(;ille, and rx)bau, and destined to 
begin the action by taking Mont-Saiut-Jean, which was situated 
at the intersection of the Nivelles and the Genappe roads, and 
Wid to him, ''There are four and twentj' handsome maids, 

Sure of the issue, he encouraged with a smile, as they passed 
before him, the company of sappers of the first corps, which he 
had appointed to barricade Mont-Saint- Jean as soon as the vil- 
lage should be carried. All this serenity had been traversed by 
but a single word of haughty pity ; perceiving on his left, at a 
Apot where thc^re now stands a large tomb, tliose admirable 
Scotch Grays, with their superb horses, massing themselves, he 
aaid, " It is a pity." 

Then he mounted his horse, advanced beyond Rossomme, and 
selected for his post of observation a contracted élévation of 


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tarf to the right of the road from Genappe to Brussels, which 
was his second station during tlie battle. The third station, tht 
one adopted at seven o'clock in the evening, between La Belle- 
Alliance and La Haie-Sainte, is formidable ; it is a rather ele* 
vated knoll, which still exists, and behind which the guard was 
massed on a slope of the plain. Around this knoll the balls re- 
bounded from the pavements of the road, up to Napoleon him- 
self. As at Brienne, he had over his head the shriek of the 
bullets and of thé heavy artillery. Mouldy cannon-balls, old 
sword-blades, and shapeless projectiles, eaten up with rust, 
were picked up at the spot where his horse's feet stood. Scabra 
nibigine. A few years ago, a shell of sixty pounds, still charged, 
and with its fuse broken off level with the bomb, was un- 
earthed. It was at this last post that the Emperor said to his 
gnide, Lacoste, a hostile and tcnificd peasant, who was attached 
to the saddle of a hussar, and who turned round at every dis- 
charge of canister and tried to hide behind Napoleon: " Fool, 
it is shameful ! You'll get yourself killed with a ball in the 
back." He who writes these lines has himself found, in the fri- 
able soil of this knoll, on turning over the sand, the remains of 
the neck of a bomb, disintegrated by the oxidization of six and 
forty 3'ears, and old fragments of iron which parted like elder- 
twigs between the fingers. 

Everj' one is aware that the variously inclined undulations 
of the plains, where the engagement between Napoleon and 
Wellington took place, are no longer what they were on June 
18, 1815. By taking from this mournful field the wherewithal 
to make a monument to it, its real relief has been taken away, 
and history, disconcerted, no longer finds her bearings there. 
It has been disfigured for the sake of glorifying it. Wellington, 
when he beheld Waterloo once more, two years later, exclaimed, 
'* They have altered my field of battle ! " Where the great 
pyramid of earth, surmounted b}* the lion, rises to-day, there 
was a hillock which descended in an easy^ slope towards the 
Nivelles road, but which was almost an escarpment on the side 
of the highway to Genappe. The elevation of this escarpment 
can still be measured by the height of the two knolls of the two 
great sepulchres which enclose the road from Genappe to Brus- 
sels : one, the English tomb, is on the left ; the other, the 
German tomb, is on the right. There is no French tomb. The 
whole of that plain is a sepulchre for France. Thanks to the 
thousands upon thousands of cartloads of earth employed in 
the hillock one hundred and fifty feet in height and half a mile 
in circumference, the plateau of Mont-Saint- Jean is now acces' 


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«ible by an easy slope. On the day of battle, particularly on 
the side of La Ilaic-Saiiite, it was abrupt aud dilHcult of ap- 
proiich. The slope there is so steep tiiat the English cannon 
eon Id not see the farm, situated in the !)ottom of the valley, 
wiiich was the centre of the combat. On tlie 18th of June, 1815, 
the rains had still further increased this acclivity, the mud com- 
plicated the problem of the ascent, and the men not only slipped 
back, but stuck fast in tlie mire. Along the crest of the plateau 
ran a sort of trench whose presence it was impossible for the 
distant observer to divine. 

What was this trench ? Let us explain. Braine-rAUeud is 
a Belgian village ; Chain is another. These villages, both of 
them concealed in curves of the landscape, are connected by a 
road about a league and a half in length, which traverses the 
plain along its undulating level, and often enters and buries itself 
in the hills like a furrow, which makes a ravine of this road in 
some places. In 1815, as at the present day, this road cut the 
crest of the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean between the two high- 
ways from Genappe and Nivelles ; only, it is now on a level with 
the plain ; it was then a hollow way. Its two slopes have been 
appropriated for the monumental hillock. This road was, and 
still is, a trench throughout the greater portion of its course ; a 
hollow trench, sometimes a dozen feet in depth, and whose 
banks, being too steep, crumbled away here and there, particu- 
larly in winter, under (iriving rains. Accidents happened here. 
The road was so narrow at the Hraine-rAlleud entrance that a 
p*isser-by was crushed by a cart, as is proved by a stone cross 
which stands near the cemetery, and which gives the name of 
the dead, Monsieur Bernard Debrye, Merchant of Brussels^ and 
the date of the accident, Fehniary^ 1637} It was so deep on 
the table-land of >Mont-Saint-Jean that a peasant, Mathieu 
Nicaise, was crushed there, in 178,'^, by a slide from the slope, 
as is stated on another stone cross, the top of which has disap 
peared in the process of clearing the ground, but whose over 
turned pedestal is still visible on the grassy slope to the left o) 
the highway between La Haie-Sainte and the farm of Mon^ 
Saint- Jean. 

^This ifl the iiucription : — 

D. O. M. 



A BRirxKLLR LK [illegible] 
rcvKiER 16372— 


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Od the day of battle, this hollow road whose existence was 
n no way indicated, bordering the crest of Mont-Saint- Jean, a 
Ireuch at the summit of the escarpment, a rut concealed in the 
joil, was invisible ; that is to say, terrible. 

nil. - -The Emperor puts a Question to the Guide Lacoste 

So, on the morning of Waterloo, Napoleon was content. 

He was right ; the plan of battle conceived by him was, as 
we have seen, really admirable. 

The battle once begun, its very various changes, — the resist- 
ance of Hougomont; the tenacity of La Haie-Sair.te; the killing 
of Baiiduin ; the disabling of Foy ; the unexpected wall against 
which Soye's brigade was shattered ; Gnilleminot's fatal heedless- 
ness when he had neither petard nor powder sacks ; the miring 
of the batteries ; the fifteen unescorted pieces overwhelmed in a 
hollow way by Uxbridge ; the small effect of the bombs falling 
in the English lines, and there embedding themselves in the 
rain-soaked soil, and only succeeding in producing volcanoes of 
mod, so that the canister was turned into a splash ; the nseless- 
ness of Fire's demonstration on Braine-rAUeud ; all that cavalry, 
fifteen squadrons almost exterminated ; the right wing of the 
English badly alarmed, the left wing badly cut into; Ney's 
strange mistake in massing, instead of echelon ning the four 
divisions of the first corps ; men delivered over to grape-shot, 
arranged in ranks twenty-seven deep and with a frontage of 
two hundred ; the frightful holes made in these masses by the 
cannon-balls ; attacking columns disorganized ; the side-battery 
suddenl^^ unmasked on their flank ; Bourgeois, Donzelot, and 
Dunitte compromised ; Quiot repulsed ; Lieutenant Vieux, that 
Hercules graduated at the Polytechnic School, wounded at the 
.noment when he was beating in with an axe the door of La 
(laie-Satnte under the downright fire of the English barricade 
irhich barred the angle of the road from Genappe to Brussels; 
Marcognet's division caught between the infantry and the cav- 
alry, shot down at the very muzzle of the guns amid the forain 
by Best and Pack, put to the sword by Ponsonby ; his battery 
of seven pieces spiked ; the Prince of Saxe-Weimar holding and 
guarding, in spite of the Comte d'Erlon, both Frischemont and 
Smohain ; the flag of the 105th taken, tlie flag of the 45th cap- 
tured ; that black Prussian hussar stopi)ed l)y runners of the 
flying column of three hundred liuht cavalry on the scout be- 
tween Wavre and PlancenoU,' the alarming things that bad heel 


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said by prisoners ; Grouchv's delay ; fifteen hundred men killed 
in the orchard of Ilougoiiiont in less tlian an hour ; eighteen 
hundred men overthrown in a slill shorter time? about La Huic- 
Sahite, — all these stormy incidents passing like the clouds of 
battle before Napoleon, had hardly troubled his gaze and had 
not overshadowed that face of imperial certainty. Napoleon 
was accustomed to gaze steadily at war ; he never added up the 
heart-rending details, cipher by cipher ; ciphers mattered little to 
him, provided that they furnished the total, victor}- ; he was 
not alarmed if the beginnings did go astray, since he thought 
himself the master and the possessor at the end ; he knew how 
to wait, supposing himself to be out of the question, and he 
treated destiny as his equal : he seemed to say to fate, Thou 
wilt not dare. 

Composed half of light and half of shadow, Napoleon thought 
himself protected in good and tolerated in evil. lie had, or 
thought that he had, a connivance, one might almost say a com- 
plicity, of events in his favor, which was equivalent to tlie invul- 
nerability of antiquity. 

Nevertheless, when one has B^*résina, Leipzig, and Fontaine- 
bleau behind one, it seems as though one miglit distrust Water- 
loo. A mysterious frown becomes perceptible in the depths of 
the heavens. 

At the moment when Wellington retreated. Napoleon shud- 
dered. He suddenly beheld the tal)le-laiid of Mont-Saint-Jean 
cleared, and the van of the English army disappear. It was 
rallying, out hiding itself. The P^mperor half rose in his stir- 
rups. Tlic lightning of victory flashed from his eyes. 

Wellington, driven into a corner at the forest of Soignes and 
destroyed — tliat was the definitive conquest of England by 
France ; it was Crécy, Poitiers, Mal|)laquet, and Ramillies 
avenged. The man of Mnrotigo was wipitig out Azincourt. 

So the Emperor, meditating on this terrible turn of fortune, 
«wept his glass for the last time over all the points of the field 
of battle. His guard, standing behind him with grounded 
arms, watched him from below with a sort of religion. He 
pondered ; he examined the sh)pes, noted the declivities, scru- 
tinized the chimps of trees, the square of rye, the path ; he 
seemed to be counting each bush. He gazed with some intent- 
ness at the English barricades of the two highways, — two large, 
abatis of trees, that on the road to Genappe above La Haie- 
Sainte, armed with two cannon, the only ones out of all the 
English artillery wliieh commnnded the extremity' of the field of 
battle, and that on the road to Nivelles where gleamed the 


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Dutch bayonets of Chassé's brigade. Near this barricade he 
observed the old chapel of Saint Nicholas, painted white, which 
stands at the angle of the cross-road near Braine-rAlleud ; he 
bent down and spoke in a low voice to the guide Lacoste. The 
guide made a negative sign with his head, which was probablj 

The Emperor straightened himself up and fell to thinking. 

Wellington had drawn back. 

All that remained to do was to complete this retreat by crush 
ing him. 

Napoleon turning round abruptly, despatched an express at 
full speed to Paris to announce that the battle was won. 

Napoleon was one of those geniuses from whom thunder 

He had just found his clap of thunder. 

He gave orders to Milhaud's cuirassiers to carry the table- 
land of Mont-Saint-Jean. 

IX. — The Unsxpected. 

Thebb were three thousand five hundred of them. They formed 
a front a quarter of a league in extent. They were giant men, 
on colossal horses. There were six and twenty squadrons of 
them ; and they had behind them to support them Lefebvre- 
Desnouettes's division, — the one hundred and six picked gen- 
darmes, the light cavalry of the Guard, eleven hundred and 
ninety-seventy men, and the lancers of the guard of eiglit hun- 
dred and eiglity lances. They wore casques without horse-tails, 
and cuirasses of beaten iron, with horse-pistols in their holsters, 
and long sabre-swords. That morning the whole army had 
admired them, when, at nine o'clock, with braying of trumpets 
and all the music playing ^^ Let us watch o'er the Safety of the 
Empire,*' they had come in a solid column, with one of their 
batteries on their flank, another in their centre, and deployed 
in two ranks between the roads to Genappe and Frischemont, 
and taken up their position for battle in that powerful second 
line, so cleverly arranged by Napoleon, which, having on its 
extreme left Kellermann's cuirassiers and on its extreme, right 
Milhaad's cuirassiers, had, so to speak, two wings of iron. 

Aide-de-camp Bernard carried them the Emperor's orders. 
Ney drew his sword and placed himself at their head. The 
enormous squadrons were set in motion. 

Then a formidable spectacle was seen. 


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AU their cavalry, with upraised Bwords, standards and trum* 
pets flung to tiie breeze, formed in columns by divisions, de- 
scended, by a simultaneous movement and like one man, with 
the precision of a brazen battering-ram which is affecting a 
breach, the hill of La Belle Alliance, plunged into the terrible 
depths in which so many men had already fallen, disappeared 
there in the smoke, then emeqjiug from that shadow, reappeared 
on the other side of the valley, still compact and in close ranks, 
mounting at a full trot, through a storm of grape-shot which 
burst upon them, the terrible muddy slope of the table>land of 
Mont-Saint- Jean. They ascended, grave, threatening, imper- 
turbable ; in the intervals between the musketry and the artil- 
lery, their colossal trampling was audible. Being two divisions, 
there were two columns of them ; Wathier's division held the 
right, Delort's division was on the left. It seemed as though two 
immense adders of steel were to be seen crawling towards the 
crest of the table-land. It ti'aversed the battle like a prodigy. 

Nothing like it had been seen since the taking of the great 
redoubt of the Moskowa by the heavy cavalry ; Murât was 
lacking here, but Ney was again present. It seemed as though 
that mass had become a monster and had but one soul. Each 
column undulated and swelled like the ring of a polyp. They 
could be seen through a vast cloud of smoke wlîich was rent 
here and there. A confusion of helmets, of cries, of sabres, a 
stormy heaving of the cruppers of horses amid the canons and 
the flourish of trumpets, a terrible and disciplined tumult ; over 
all, the cuirasses like the scales on the hydra. 

These narrations seemed to belong to another age. Some- 
thing parallel to this vision appeared, no doubt, in tlie ancient 
Orpliic epics, which told of the centaurs, the old hippanthropcs, 
those Titans with human heads and equestrian chests who scaled 
Olympus at a gallop, horrible, invulnerable, sublime — gods and 

Odd numerical coincidence, — twenty-six battalions rode to 
meet twenty-six battalions. Behind the crest of the plateau, 
in the shadow of the masked battery, the English infantry, 
formed into thirteen squares, two battalions to the square, in 
two lines, with seven in the first line, six in the second, th* 
stocks of their guns to their shoulders, taking aim at that which 
was on the point of appearing, waited, calm, mute, motionless. 
They did not see the cuirassiers, and tlie cuirassiers did not see 
them. They listened to the rise of this flood of men. They 
heard the swelling noise of three thousand horse, the alternate 
and symmetrical tramp of their l>oa^9 at full trot, the jingling of 


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Aie cuirassés, the clang of the sabres, and a sort of grand and 
savage breathing. There ensued a most terrible silence ; then, 
all at once, a long file of uplifted arms, brandishing sabres, ap- 
peared above the crest, and casques, trumpets, and standards, 
and three thousand heads with gray mustaches, shouting, 
** Vive TEmpereur ! " All this cavalry debouched on the pla* 
teau, and it was like the appearance of an earthquake. 

All at once, a tragic incident ; on the English left, on our 
right, the head of the column of cuirassiers reared up with s 
frightful clamor. On arriving at the culminating point of the 
crest, ungovernable, utterly given over to fury and their course 
of extermination of tlie squai*es and cannon, the cuirassiers had 
just caught sight of a trench, — a trench between them and the 
English. It was the hollow road of Ohain. 

It was a terrible moment. The ravine was there, unexpected, 
yawning, directly under the horses' feet, two fathoms deep 
between its double slopes ; the second file pushed the first into 
it, and the third pushed on the second ; the horses reared and 
fell backward, landed on their haunches, slid down, all four 
feet in the air, crashing and overwhelming the riders ; and there 
being no means of retreat, — the whole column being no longer 
anything more than a projectile, — the force which had been 
acquired to crush the English crushed the French ; the inexora- 
ble ravine could only 3'ield when filled ; horses and riders. rolled 
there pell-mell, grinding each other, forming but one mass of 
flesh in this gulf : when this trench was full of living men, the 
rest marched over them and passed on. Almost a third of 
Dubois's brigade fell into that abyss. 

This began the loss of the battle. 

A local tradition, which evidently exaggerates matters, says 
that two thousand horses and fiHeen hundred men were buried 
in the hollow road of Ohain. This figure probably comprises 
all the other corpses which were flung into this ravine the day 
after the combat. 

Let us note in passing that it was Dubois's sorely tried bri- 
gade which, an hour previously, making a charge to one side, 
bad captured the flag of the Lunenl)urg battalion. 

NaiK)leon, before giving the order for this charge of Milhaud's 
cuirassiers, had scrutinized the gmnnd, but had not been able 
to see that hollow road, whicli did not even form a wrinkle on 
the surface of the plateau. Warned, nevertheless, and put on 
the alert by the little white chapel which marks its angle of junc- 
ture with the Nivelles highway, he had probably i)nt a question 
%B to the possibility of an obstacle, to tiie guide Lacoste. Tho 


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guide had answered No. We might almost affirm that Napo 
leon's catastrophe originated in that sign of a peasant's head. 

Other fatalities were destined to arise. 

Was it possible tliat Napoleon should have won that battle! 
We answer No. Why? Because of Wellington? Because o( 
Bluclier? No. Because of God. 

Bonaparte victor at Waterloo ; that does not come within the 
law of the nineteenth century. Another series of facts was in 
preparation, in wliich there was no longer any room for Napo- 
leon. The ill will of events had declared itself long before. 

It was time that this vast man should fall. 

The excessive weight of this man in human destiny disturbed 
the balance. This individual alone counted for more than a 
universal group. These plethoras of all human vitality concen- 
trated in a single head ; the world mounting to the brain of one 
man, — this would be mortal to civilization were it to last. The 
moment had arrived for the incorruptible and supreme equitj' to 
alter its plan. Probably the principles and the elemeuts, on which 
the regular gravitations of the moral, as of the material, world 
depend, had complained. Smoking blood, over-filled ceme- 
teries, mothers in tears, — these are formidable pleaders. When 
the earth is suffering from too heavy a burden, there are myste- 
rious groanings of the shades, to which the abyss lends an ear. 

Napoleon had been denounced in the infinite, and his fall had 
been decided on. 

lie embarrassed God. 

Waterloo is not a battle ; it ia a change of front oo the part 
of the Universe. 

X. — The Plateau op Mont-Saint-Jean. 

The battery was unmasked at the same moment with the 

Sixty cannons and the thirteen squares darted lightning point - 
blank on the cuirassiers. The intrepid General Delort made the 
military salute to the English battery. 

The whole of the flying artillery of the English had re-en 
tered the squares at a gallop. The cuirassiers had not had 
even the time for a halt. The disaster of the hollow road had 
decimated, but not discouraged them. The}' belonged to that 
class of men who, when diminished in number, increase in 

Wathier'a column alone had suffered in the disaster ; Delort'fl 


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folomii, which Ney had deflected to the left, as though he had a 
presenUment of an ambush, had arrived whole. 

The cuirassiers hurled themselves on the P^nglish squares. 

At full speed, with bridles loose, swords in their teeth 
pistols in fist, — such was the attack. 

There are moments in battles in which the soul hardens the 
man until the soldier is changed into a statue, and when all this 
desh turns into granite. The English battalions, desperately 
assaulted, did not stir. 

Then it was terrible. 

All the faces of the English squares were attacked at once. 
A frenzied whirl enveloped them. That cold infantry remained 
impassive. The first rank knelt and received the cuirassiers on 
their bayonets, the second ranks shot them down ; behind the 
second rank the cannoneers charged their guns, the front of the 
square parted, permitted the passage of an erupK^ion of grape- 
shot, and closed again. The cuirassiers replied by crushing 
them. Their great horses reared, strode across the ranks, 
leaped over the bayonets and fell, gigantic, in the midst of these 
four living wells. The cannon-balls ploughed furrows in these 
cuirassiers; the cuirassiers made breaches in the squares. 
Files of men disappeared, ground to dust under the horses. 
The bayonets plunged into the bellies of these centaurs ; hence 
a hideousness of wounds which has probably never been seen 
anywhere else. The squares, wasted by this mad cavalry, closed 
np their ranks without flinching. Inexhaustible in the matter 
of gi-ape-shot, they created explosions in their assailants' midst. 
The form of this combat was monstrous. These squares were 
no longer battalions, they were craters ; those cuirassiers were 
no longer cavalry, they were a tempest. Each square was a 
volcano attacked b}' a cloud ; lava contended with lightning. 

The square on the extreme right, the most exposed of all, 
being in the air, was almost annihilated at the very first shock. 
ft was formed of the 75th regiment of Highlanders. The bag' 
pipe player iil the centre dropped his melancholy eyes, filled 
«rith the reflections of the forests and the lakes, in profound in- 
attention, while men were being exterminated around him, and 
seated on a drum, with his pibroch under his arm, played the 
Highland airs. Tliese Scotchmen died thinking of Ben Lothian, 
as did the Greeks recalling Argos. The sword of a cuirassier, 
which hewed down the bagpipes and the arm which bore it, 
pat an end to the song by killing the singer. 

The cuirassiers, relatively few in number, and still furthei 
diminished by the catastrophe of the ravine, had almost \h» 


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whole English army against them, but thej multiplied them 
selves so that each man of them was equal to ten. Neverthe 
less, some llano verian battalions yielded. Wellington perceived 
it, and thouglit of his cavalry. Had Ifapoleon at that same 
momenc thouglit of his infantry, he would have won the battle. 
This forgetfulness was his great and fatal mistake. 

All at once, the cuirassiers, who had been the assailauts, 
found themselves assailed. The English cavalry was at their 
back. Before them two squares, behind them Somerset ; Somer- 
set meant fourteen hundred dragoons of the guard. On the 
right, Somerset had Dornberg with the German light-horse, and 
on his left, Trip with the Belgian carabineers ; the cuirassiei-s 
attacked on the flank and in front, before and in the rear, by 
infantry and cavalry, had to face all sides. What mattered it 
to them? They were a whirlwind. Their valor was something 

In addition to this, they had behind them the battery, which 
was still thundering. It was necessary that it should be so, or 
they could never have been wounded in the back. One of their 
cuirasses, pierced on the shoulder by a ball from a biscayan,^ is 
in the collection of the Waterloo Museum. 

For such Frenchmen nothing less than such Englishmen was 
needed. It was no longer a hand-to-hand conflict; it was a 
shadow, a fury, a dizzy transport of souls and courage, a hurri- 
cane of lightning swords. In an instant the fourteen hundred 
dragoon guards numbered only eight hundred. Fuller, their 
lieutenant-colonel, fell dead. Ney rushed up with the lancers 
and Ixîfebvrc-Desnouettes's light-horse. The plateau of Mont- 
Saint- Jean was captured, recaptured, captured again. The 
cuirassiers quitted the cavalry to return to the infantry ; or, to 
put it more exactly, the whole of that formidable rout collared 
each other without releasing the other. The squares still held 

There were a dozen assaults. Ney had four horaes killed 
ander him. Half the cuirassiers remained on the plateau. This 
conflict lasted two hours. 

The English army was profoundly shaken. There is no doubt 
that, had they not been enfeebled in their flrst shock by the dis- 
aster of the hollow road, the cuirassiers would have overwhelmed 
the centre and decided the victory. This extraordinary cavalry 
petrified Clinton, who had seen Talavera and Badajoz. Wel- 
liniïton, three-quarters vanquished, admired heroically. H« 
said m an undertone, '^ Sublime!" 

^ A heavy rifled gati. 


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The cuirassiers annihilated seven squares out of thirteen, 
kKjk or spiked sixty pieces of ordnance, and captured from the 
English regiments six flags, which three cuirassiers and three 
chasseurs of the Guard bore to the Emperor, in front of the 
farm of La Belle Alliance. 

Wellington's situation had grown worse. This strange battle 
was like a duel between two raging, wounded men, each of whom, 
still fighting and still resisting, is expending all his blood. 

Which of the two will be the first to fall? 

The conflict on the plateau continued. 

What had become of the cuirassiers? No one could have 
told. One thing is certain, that on the day after the battle, a 
cuirassier and his horse were found dead among the woodwork 
(f the scales for vehicles at Mont-Saint- Jean, at the very point 
uhere the four roads from Nivelles, Genappe, La Hulpe, and 
Hrussels meet and intersect each other. This horseman had 
pierced the English lines. One of the men who picked up the 
iKxly still lives at Mont-Saint- Jean. His name is Dehaze. He 
iras eighteen years old at that time. 

Wellington felt that he was yielding. The crisis was at hand. 

The cuirassiers bad not succeeded, since the centre was not 
iToken through. As every one was in possession of the plateau, 
no one held it, and in fact it remained, to a great extent, with 
the English. Wellington held the v .lage and the culminating 
plain ; Ney had only the crest and the slope. They seemed 
tooted in that fatal soil on both sides. 

Bat the weakening of the English seemed irremediable. The 
Heeding of that army was horrible. Kempt, on the left wing, 
demanded reinforcements. " There are none," replied Welling- 
ton ; ^^he must let himself be killed!'* Almost at that same 
moment, a singular coincidence which paints the exhaustion of 
the two armies, Ney demanded infantry from Napoleon, and 
Napoleon exclaimed, ''Infantry! Where does he expect me 
to get it? Does he think I can make it?" 

N3vertheless, the English army was in the worse case of the 
:wo. The furious onsets of those great squadrons with cui- 
rasses of iron and breasts of steel had ground the infantry to 
ftothing. A few men clustered round a flag marked the post 
of a regiment; such and such a battalion was commanded 
only by a captain or a lieutenant; Alten's division, already so 
ronghly handled at La Haie-Sainte, was almost destroyed ; the 
intrepid Belgians of Van Kluze's brigade strewed the rye- fields 
all along the Nivelles road ; hardly anything was left of those 
Dutch grenadiers, who, intermingled with Spaniards in our 


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«-anks in 1811, fought against Wellington; and who, in 1815. 
rallied to the Eugli^li standard, fought against Napoleon. The 
loss in otficers was considerable. Lord Uxbridge, who had his leg 
'buried on the following day, had his knee shattered. If, on the 
French side, in that tussle of the cuirassiers, Delort, THéritier, 
Colbert, Dnop, Travers, and Blancard were disabled, on the 
side of the English there was Alteu wounded, Barne wounded. 
Delanccy killed. Van Meeren killed, Ompteda killed, the whole 
of >yellington's staff decimated, and England had the worse of 
it in that bloody scale. The second regiment of foot-guards had 
lost five lieutenant-colonels, four captains, and three ensigns ; the 
first battalion of the 30th infantry had lost 24 officers and 1200 
soldiers ; the 79th Highlanders had lost 24 officers wounded, 
18 officers killed, 450 soldiers killed. The Hanoverian hus- 
sars of Cumberland, a whole regiment, with Colonel Hacke at 
its head, who was destined to be tried later on and cashiered, 
had turned bridle in the presence of the fray, and had fled to 
the forest of Soignes, sowing defeat all the way to Brussels. 
The transports, ammunition-wagons, the baggage- wagons, the 
wagons filled with wounded, on perceiving that the French were 
gaining groun(J and approaching the forest, rushed headlong 
thither. The Dutch, mowed down by the French cavalry, cried, 
*' Alarm ! " From Vert-Coucou to Groentendael, for a dis- 
tance of nearly two leagues in the direction of Brussels, accord- 
ing to the testimony of eye-witnesses who are still alive, the 
roads were encumbered with fugitives. This panic was such 
that it attacked the Prince de Condé at Mechlin, and Louis 
XVIll. at Ghent. With the exception of the feeble reserve 
echelonned behind the ambulance established at tlie farm of 
Mont-Saint- Jean, and of Vivian's and Vandeleur's brigades, 
which flanked the left wing, Wellington had no cavalry left. 
A number of batteries lay unhorsed. These facts are attested 
by Si borne ; and Pr ingle, exaggerating the disaster, goes so fai 
as to say that the Anglo-Dutch army was reduced to thirt3'-four 
thousand men. The Iron Duke remained calm, but his lip^ 
blanched. Vincent, the Austrian commissioner, Alava, the 
Spanish commissioner, who were present at the battle in the 
English staff, thought the Duke lost. At five o'clock Welling- 
ton drew out his watch^ and he was heard to murmur these sin- 
ister words, '' Blucher, or night ! " 

It was at about that moment that a distant line of bayonets 
gleamed on the heights In the direction of Frischemont. 

Here comes the change of face in this giant drama. 


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XI. — A Bad Guide to Napoleon ; a Good Guide to Bulow. 

The painful surprise of Napoleon is well known. Grouchy 
hoped for, Bliicher arriving. Death instead of life. 

Fate has these turns ; the throne of the world was expected ; 
it was Saint Helena that was seen. 

If the little shepherd who served as guide to Billow, Blûcher's 
lieutenant, had advised him to debouch from the forest above 
F rischemont, instead of below Plancenoit, the form of the 
nineteenth century might, perhaps, have been different. Na- 
poleon would have won tlie battle of Waterloo. By any other 
route than that below Plancenoit, the Prussian army would have 
come out upon a ravine impassable for artillery, and Billow 
would not have arrived. 

Now the Prussian general. Muffling, declares that one hour's 
delay, and Bliicher would not have found Wellington on his 
feet " The battle was lost." 

It was time that Biilow should arrive, as will be seen. He 
had, moreover, been very much delayed. He had bivouacked 
at Dion-le-Mont, and had set out at daybreak ; but the roads 
were impassable, and his divisions stuck fast in the mire. The 
ruts were up to the hubs of the cannons. Moreover, he had 
been obliged to pass the Dyle on the narrow bridge of Wavre ; 
the street leading to the bridge had been fired by the French, so 
the caissons and ammunition-wagons could not pass between 
two rows of burning houses, and had been obliged to wait until 
the conflagration was extinguished. It was mid-day before 
Bulow's vanguard had been able to reach Chapelle-Saint- Lam- 

Had the action been begun two hours earlier, it would have 
fecen over at four o'clock, and Bliicher would have fallen on the 
battle won by Napoleon. Such are these immense risks propor- 
tioned to an infinite which we cannot comprehend. 

The Emperor had been the first, as early as mid-day, to de- 
3cry with his field-glass, on the extreme horizon, something 
which had attracted his attention. He had said, " I see yonder 
a cloud, which seems to me to be troops." Then he asked the 
Due de Dalniatie, " Soult, what do you see in the direction of 
Chapelle-Saint- Lambert?" The marshal, levelling his glass, 
answered, "Four or five thousand men, Sire; evidently Grou- 
chy." But it remained motionless in the mist. All the glasses of 
the staff bad studied " the cloud" pointed out bv the Emperor. 


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Some said : '^ It is trees." The truth is, that the cloud did not 
move. The Emperor detached Domon's division of light cav- 
alry to reconnoitre in that quarter. 

Billow had not moved, in fact. His vanguard was verj 
feeble, and could accomplish nothing. He was obliged to wait 
for the body of the army corps, and he had received orders to 
concentrate his forces before entering into line ; bat at five 
o'clock, perceiving Wellington's peril, Bliicher ordered Bulow 
to attack, and uttered these remarkable words : " We must give 
air to the English army." 

A little later, the divisions of Losthin, Hiller, Hacke, and 
Ryssel deployed before Lobau's corps, the cavalry of Prince 
William of Prussia debouched from the forest of Paris, Plance- 
noit was in flames, and the Prussian cannon-balls began to rain 
even upon the ranks of the guard in reserve behind Napoleon. 

Xn. — The Guakd. 

EvicRT one knows the rest, — the irruption of a third army : 
the battle broken to pieces ; eighty-six mouths of fire thunder- 
ing simultaneously ; Pirch the first coming up with Bulow ; Zie- 
teu's cavalry led by Bliicher in person, the French driven back ; 
Marcognet swept from the plateau of Ohain ; Durutte disloilgeti 
from Papelotte ; Donzelot and Quiot retreating ; Lobau caught 
on the flank ; a fresh battle precipitating itself on our dismantled 
regiments at nightfall ; the whole English line resuming the of* 
fensive and thrust forward ; the gigantic breach made in tb< 
French arm}* ; the English grape-shot and the Prussian grape- 
shot aiding each other ; the extermination ; disaster in front ; 
disaster on the flank ; the Guard entering the line in the midst 
of this teiTible crumbling of all things. 

Conscious that they were about to die, thej' shouted, " Vive 
TEmpereur!" History records nothing more touching than 
that agony bursting forth in acclamations. 

The sky had been overcast all day long. All of a sudden, 
at that very moment, — it was eight o'clock in the evening — the 
clouds on the horizon parted, and allowed the grand and sinister 
glow of the setting sun to pass through, athwart the elms or 
the Nivelles road. They had seen it rise at Austerlitz. 

Each battalion of the Guard was commanded by a general for 
this final catastrophe. Priant, Michel, Roguet, Harlet, Mallet- 
Poret de Morvan, were there. When the tall caps of the gren 
adiers of the Guard, with their large plaques bearing the eagU 


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appeared, symmetrical, in line, tranquil, in the midst of that 
(j'jiDbat, the enemy felt a respect for France ; they thought they 
Ireheld twenty victories entering the field of battle, with wings 
rutspread, and those who were the conquerors, believing them- 
selves to be vanquished, retreated ; but Wellington shouted, 
" Up, Guards, and aim straight ! " The red regiment of P^nglish 
guards, lying flat behind the hedges, sprang up, a cloud of 
grape-shot riddled the tricolored flag and whistled round our 
eagles; all hurled themselves forwards, and the final carnage 
f3egan. In the darkness, the Imperial Guard felt the army 
losing ground around it, and in the vast shock of the rout it 
beard the desperate flight which had taken the place of the 
*' Vive TEmpereur!'* and, with flight behind it, it continued to 
advance, more crushed, losing more men at every step that it 
took. There were none who hesitated, no timid men in its 
ranks. The soldier in that troop was as much of a hero as the 
general. Not a man was missing in that suicide. 

Ney, bewildered, great with all the grandeur of accepted 
death, offered himself to all blows in that tempest. He had his 
fifth horae killed under him there. Perspiring, his eyes aflame, 
foaming at the mouth, with uniform unbuttoned, one of his 
epaulets half cut off by a sword-stroke from a horse-guard, his 
plaque with the great eagle dented by a bullet ; bleeding, be- 
mired, magnificent, a broken sword in his hand, he said, 
" Come and see how a Marshal of France dies on the field of 
battle ! " But in vain ; he did not die. He was haggard and 
angry. At Drouet d'Erlon he hurled this question, " Are you 
not going to get yourself killed ? " In the midst of all that 
artiller3' engaged in crushing a handful of men, he shouted : 
" So there is nothing for me ! Oh ! I should like to have all 
these English bullets enter my bowels ! " Unhappy man, thou 
wtrt reserved for French bullets ! 

Xm. — The Catastrophe. 

The rout behind the Guard was melancholy. 

The army yielded suddenly on all sides at once, — Hou- 
gomont, La Haie-Sainte, Papelotte, Plancenoit. The cry, 
*' Treachery ! " was- followed by a cry of " Save yourselves who 
can ! " An army which is disbanding is like a thaw. All yields, 
splits, cracks, floats, rolls, falls, jostles, hastens, is precipitated. 
The disintegration is unprecedented. Ney borrows a horse, 
leaps apoo it, and without hat, cravat, or sword, places himéclf 


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across the Bruseels road, stoppiDg both English and French 
He strives to detain the army, lie recalls it to its duty, he insults 
it, he clings to the rout. He is overwhehned. The soldiers fly 
from iiiui, shouting, '* Long live Marshal Ney ! " Two of Du- 
rutte's ri'giments go and come in affright as though tossed back 
and forth between the swords of the Uhlans and the fusillade 
of the brigades of Kempt, Best, Pack, and Rylandt; the woret 
of hand-to-hand conflicts is the defeat ; friends kill each other 
in order to escape ; squadrons and battalions break and dis- 
perse against each other, like the tremendous foam of battle. 
Lobau at one extremity, and Reille at the other, are drawn into 
the tide. In vain docs Nai>oleon erect walls from what is left 
to him of his Guard ; in vain does he expend in a last effort his 
last serviceable squadrons. Quiot retreats before Vivian, Kel- 
lermann before Vandcleur, Lobau before Billow, Morand before 
Pirch, Domon and Subervic before Prince William of Prussia ; 
Guyot, who led the Emperor's squadrons to the charge, falls 
beneath the feet of the English dragoons. Napoleon gallops 
past the line of fugitives, harangues, urges, threatens, entreats 
them. All the mouths which in the morning had shouted, ^^ Long 
live the lîmperor ! " remain gaping ; they hardly recognize him. 
The Prussian cavalry, newly arrived, dashes forwards, flies, 
hews, slashes, kills, exterminates. Horses lash out, the 
cannons flee ; the soldiers of the artlller3'-train unharness the 
caissons and use the horses to make their escape ; transports 
overturned, with all four wheels in the air, clog the road and 
occasion massacres. Men are crushed, trampled down, others 
walk over the dead and the living. Arms are lost. A dizzy 
multitude fills the roads, the paths, the bridges, the plains, the 
hills, the valleys, the woods, encumbered by this invasion of 
forty thousand men. Shouts, despair, knapsacks and guns 
flung among the rye, passages forced at the point of the sword, 
no more comrades, no more officers, no more generals, an inex- 
pressible terror. Zioten putting France to the sword at its 
leisure. Lions converted into goats. Such was the flight. 

At Genappe, an effort was made to wheel about, to present 
a battle front, to draw up in line. Lobau rallied three hundred 
men. The entrance to the village was barricaded, but at the 
first volley of Prussian canister, all took to flight again, and 
Lobau was taken. That volley of grape-shot can be seen 
to-day imprinted on the ancient gable of a brick building on 
the right of the road at a few minutes* distance before you 
enter Genappe. The Prussians threw themselves into Genappe, 
furious, no doubt, that they were not more entirely the oon* 


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querors. The pursuit was stupendous. Bldcher ordered ex ter 
uiination. Rc^uet bad set the lugubrious example of tlireateuing 
with death any French grenadier who should bring him a Prus- 
sian prisoner. Blucher outdid Roguet. Duhesme, the general 
of the Young Guard, hemmed in at the doorway of an inn at 
Genappe, suirendered his sword to a huzzar of death, who took 
the sword and slew the prisoner. The victory was completed 
by the assassination of the vanquished. Let us iuflict punish- 
*Eent, since we are history : old Blucher disgraced himself. This 
ferocity put the finishing touch to the disaster. The desperate 
rout traversed Genappe, traversed Quatre-Bras, travei-sed Gos- 
selies, traversed Frasnes, traversed Charleroi, traversed Thuin, 
and only halted at the frontier. Alas ! and who, then, was 
fleeing in that manner? The Grand Army. 

This vertigo, this terror, this downfall into ruin of the loftiest 
bravery which ever astounded history, — is that causeless ? No. 
The shadow of an enormous right is projected athwart Water- 
loo. It is the day of destiny. The force which is mightier 
than man produced that day. Hence the terrified wrinkle of 
those brows ; hence all those great souls surrendering their 
swords. Those who had conquered Europe have fallen prone 
on the earth, with nothing left to say nor to do, feeling the 
present shadow of a terrible presence. Hoc erat in fatis. That 
daj- the perspective of the human race underwent a change. 
Waterloo is the hinge of the nineteenth century. The disap- 
jiearance of the great man was necessary to the advent of the 
great century. Some one, a person to whom one replies not, 
took the responsibility on himself. The panic of heroes can be 
explained. In the battle of Waterloo there is something more 
than a cloud, there is something of the meteor. God has 
passed by. 

At nightfall, in a meadow near Genappe, Bernard and Ber- 
trand seized by the skirt of his coat and detained a man, hag- 
gard, pensive, sinister, gloomy, who, dragged to that point by 
the current of the rout, had just dismounted, had passed the 
bridle of his horse over his arm, and with wild eye was return- 
ing alone to Waterloo. It was Napoleon, the immense som- 
nambulist of this dream which had crumbled, essaying ono« 
more to advance. 

XIV. — The Last Square. 

Several squares of the Guard, motionless amid this stream 
of the defeat, as rocks in running water, held their own until 
night. Night came, death also; they awaited that double 


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Bhadow, and, invincible, allowed themselves to be envelope I 
therein. Each regiment, isolated from the rest, and having ni 
bond with the army, now shattered in every part, died alone. 
They had taken up position for this final action, some on the 
heights of Rossomme, others on the plain of Mont-Saint-JeaD. 
There, abandoned, vanquished, terrible, those gloomy squares 
endured their death-throes in formidable fashion. Ulm, Wag- 
ram, Jena. Friedland, died with them. 

At twilight, towards nine o'clock in the evening, one of them 
was left at the foot of the plateau of Mont-Saint- Jean. In that 
fatal valley, at the foot of that declivity which the cuirassiers 
had ascended, now inundated by the masses of the English, under 
the converging fires of the victorious hostile cavalrN^ under a 
frightful density of projectiles, this square fought on. It was 
commanded by an obscure officer named Cambronne. At each 
discharge, the square diminished and replied. It replied to the 
grape-shot with a fusillade, continually contracting its four 
walls. The fugitives pausing breathless for a moment in the 
distance, listened in the darkness to that gloomy and ever* 
decreasing thunder. 

When this legion had been reduced to a handful, when noth- 
ing was left of their flag but a rag, when their guns, the bullets 
all gone, were no longer anything but clubs, when the heap of 
corpses was larger than the group of survivors, there reigned 
among the conquerors, around those men dying so sublimely, 
a sort of sacred terror, and the English artillery, taking breath, 
became silent. This furnished a sort of respite. These com- 
batants had around them something in the nature of a swarm 
of spectres, silhouettes of men on horseback, the black profiles 
of cannon, the white sky viewed through wheels and gnu* 
carriages, the colossal death's-head, which tlie heroes saw con 
stantly through the smoke, in the depths of the battle, advanced 
apon them and gazed at them. Through the slifides of twilight 
they could hear the pieces being loaded ; the matches all lighted, 
like the eyes of tigers at night, formed a circle round their 
heads; all the lintstocks of the English batteries approached 
the cannons, and then, with emotion, holding the supreme 
moment suspended above these men, an English general. Col- 
ville according to some, Maitland according to others, shouted 
to them, ' ' Surrender, brave Frenchmen 1 " Cambronne rt - 


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XV. — Cambron»b. 

If any French reader object to having his susceptibilities 
offended, one would have to refrain from repeating in his 
presence what is perhaps the finest reply that a Frenchman 
erer made." This would enjoin us from consigning something 
sublime to History. 

At our own risk and peril, let us violate this injunction. 

Kow, then, among those giants there was one Titan, — Cam- 

To make that reply and then perish, what could be grander ? 
For being willing to die is the same as to die ; and it was not 
this man's fault if he survived after he was shot. 

The winner of the battle of Waterloo was not Napoleon, 
who was put to flight ; nor Wellington, giving way at four 
o'clock, in despair at five ; nor Blucher, who took no part in 
the engagement. The winner of Waterloo was Canibroune. 

To thunder forth such a reply at the lightning-flash that 
kills you is to conquer ! 

Thus to answer the Catastrophe, thus to speak to Fate, to 
give this pedestal to the future lion, to hurl such a challenge 
to the midnight rainstorm, to the treacherous wall of Hougo- 
mont, to the sunken road of Ohain, to Grouchy's delay, to 
Blucher^s arrival, to be Irony itself in the tomb, to act so as 
to stand upright though fallen, to drown in two syllables the 
European coalition, to oifer kings privies which the Caesars 
once knew, to make the lowest of words the most lofty by 
entwining with it the glory of France, insolently to end Water- 
loo with Mardigras, to finish Leonidas with Rabelais, to set 
the crown on this victory by a word impossible to speak, to 
k)se the field and preserve history, to have the laugli on yout 
^ide after such a carnage, — this is immense I 


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It was an insult such as a thunder-cloud might hurl ! It 
reaches the grandeur of iEschylus ! 

Cambronne's reply produces the effect of a violent break. 
'Tis like the breaking of a heart under a weight of scorn. 
'Tis the overflow of agony bursting forth. Who conquered ? 
Wellington ? No ! Had it not been for Blucher, he was lost. 
Was it Blucher ? No ! If Wellington had not begun, Blucher 
could not have finished. This Cambronne, this man spending 
his last hour, this unknown soldier, this infinitesimal of war, 
realizes that here is a falsehood, a falsehood in a catastrophe, 
and so doubly agonizing ; and at the moment when his rage is 
bursting forth because of it, he is offered this mockery, — life ! 
How could he restrain himself ? Yonder are all the kings of 
Europe, the generals flushed with victory, the Jupiters dart- 
ing thunderbolts ; they have a hundred thousand victorious 
soldiers, and back of the hundred thousand a million ; their 
cannon stand with yawning mouths, the match is liglited ; 
they grind down under their heels the Imperial guards 
and the grand army ; they have just crushed Napoleon, and 
only Cambronne remains, — only this earthworm is left to 
protest. He will protest. Then he seeks for the appro- 
priate word as one seeks for a sword. His mouth froths, 
and the froth is the word. In face of this mean and mighty 
victory, in face of this victory which counts none victori- 
ous, this desperate soldier stands erect. He grants its over- 
whelming immensity, but he establishes its triviality ; and 
he does more than spit upon it. Borne down by numbers, 
by superior force, by brute matter, he finds in his soul au 
expression : " Excrement ! " We repeat it, — to use that 
word, to do thus, to invent such an expression, is to be the 
conqueror ! 

The spirit of mighty days at that portentous moment made 
its descent on that unknown man. Cambronne invents tlie 
word for Waterloo, as Rouget invents the " Marseillaise," under 
the visitation of a breath from on high. An emanation from 
the divine whirlwind leaps forth and comes sweeping over 
these men, and they shake, and one of them sings the song 
supreme, and the other utters the frightful cry. 

This challenge of titanic scorn Cambronne hurls not only at 
Europe in the name of the Empire, — that would be a trifle : 
he hurls it at the past in the name of the Revolution. It is 
heard, and Cambronne is recognized as possessed by the an- 
cient spirit of the Titans. Danton seems to be speakingi 
Kléber seems to be bellowing ! 


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At that word from Cambronne, the English voice responded, 
* Fire ! " The batteries flamed, the hill trembled, from all 
those brazen mouths belched a last terrible gush of grape-shot ; 
a vast volume of smoke, vaguely white in the light of the rising 
moon, rolled out, and when the smoke dispersed, there was no 
longer anything there. That formidable remnant had been 
annihilated ; the Guard was dead. The four walls of the living 
redoubt lay prone, and hardly was there discernible, here and 
there, even a quiver in the bodies : it was thus that the French 
tegions, greater than the Roman legions, expired on Mont 
Saint-Jean, on the soil watered with rain and blood, amid the 
gloomy gi*ain, on the spot where nowadays Joseph, who drives 
the post-wagon from Nivelles, passes whistling, and cheerfully 
whipping up his horse at four o'clock in the morning. 


The battle of Waterloo is an enigma. It is as obscure to 
those who won it as to those who lost it. For Napoleon it was 
a panic ; **Blûcher sees nothing in it but fire ; Wellington un- 
derstands nothing in regard to it. Look at the reports. 1'he 
bulletins are confused, the commentaries involved. Some 
stammer, others lisp. Jomini divides the battle of Waterloo 
into four moments ; Mufiling cuts it up into three changes ; 
Charras alone, though we hold another judgment than his on 
some i)oints, seized with his haughty glance the characteristic 
outlines of that catastrophe of human genius in conflict with 
divine chance. All the other historians suffer from being 
somewhat dazzled, and in this dazzled state they fumble about. 
It was a day of lightning brilliancy ; in fact, a crumbling of ths 
military monarchy which, to the vast stupefaction cf kings, 
drew all the kingdoms after it — the fall of force, the defeat ol 

In this event, stamped with superhuman necessity, the part 
ilayed by men amounts to nothing. 

If we toke Waterloo from Wellington and Bliicher, do we there- 
by deprive England and Germany of anything? No. Neither 
that illustrious England nor that august Germany enter into the 
problem of Waterloo. Thank Heaven, nations are great, inde- 
pendently of the lugubrious feats of the sword. Neither Eng- 

i**A battle tenninated, a day finishod, false measures repaired, greatej 
BQiv^esses assnred for the morrow. — all was lost by a moment «f panU 
lemr." — Napoleon, Dictées de Sainte Hélène, 


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land, nor Germany, nor France is contained in a scabbard. At 
tliis epoch when Waterloo is only a clashing of swords, above 
BlCicher, Germany has Schiller; above Wellin^j^ton, England 
has Byron. A vast dawn of ideas is tlie peculiarity of our cen- 
tury, and in that aurora England and Germany have a magnifi- 
cent radiance. They are majestic because they think. The 
elevation of level which they contribute to civilization is in- 
trinsic with them ; it proceeds from themselves and not from an 
accident. The aggrandizement which they have brouglit to the 
nineteenth century has not Waterloo as its source. It is only 
barbarous peoples who undergo rapid growth after a victory. 
That is the temporary vanity of torrents swelled by a storm. 
Civilized people, especially in our day, are neither elevated nor 
abased by the good or bad fortune of a captain. Their specific 
gravity in the human species results from something more than 
a combat. Their honor, thank God ! their dignit}', their intelli* 
gence, their genius, are not numbers which those gamblers, 
heroes and conquerors, can put in the lottery of battles. Often 
a battle is lost and progress is conquered. There is less glory 
and more liberty. The drum holds its peace ; reason takes the 
word. It is a game in which he who loses wins. Let us, there- 
fore, speak of Waterloo coldly from lioth sides. Let us render 
to chance that which is due to chance, and to God that which is 
due to God. What is Waterloo? A victory? No. The win- 
ning number in the lottery. 

The quine ' won by Europe, paid by France. 

It was not worth while to place a lion there. 

Waterloo, moreover, is the strangest encounter in history. 
Napoleou and Wellington. They are not enemies ; they are 
opposites. Never did God, who is fond of antitheses, make a 
more striking contrast, a more extraordinary comparison. On 
one side, precision, foresight, geometry, prudence, an assured 
retreat, reserves spared, with an obstinate coolness, an imper- 
turbable method, strategy, which takes advantage of the ground, 
tactics, which preserve the equilibrium of battalions, carnage, 
executed according to rule, war regulated, watch in hand, noth 
ing voluntarilj' left to chance, the ancient classic courage, abso^ 
lute regularity; on the other, intuition, divination, military 
oddity, superhuman instinct, a flaming glance, an indescribable 
something which gazes like an eagle, and which strikes like the 
lightning, a prodigious art in disdainful impetuosity, all the 
mysterSes of a profound soul, association with destiny; the 

^ Five winning numbers in a lottacj» 

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stream, the plain, the forest, the hill, summoned, and in a man 
Der, forced to obey, the despot going even so far as to tyran- 
nize over the field of battle ; faith in a star mingled with strate, 
gic science, elevating but perturbing it. Wellington was the 
Barème of war ; Napoleon was its Michael Angelo ; and on this 
occasion, genius was vanquished by calculation. On both sides 
some one was awaited. It was the exact calculator who sue 
ceeded. Napoleon was waiting for Grouchy ; he did not come 
Wellington expected Blucher ; he came. 

Wellington is classic war taking its revenge. Bonaparte, at 
his dawning, had encountered him in Italy, and beaten him 
8ui)erbly. The old owl had fled before the young vulture. The 
old tactics had been not only struck as by lightning, but disgraced. 
Who was that Corsican of six and twenty ? What signified that 
splendid ignoramus, who, with everything against him, nothing in 
his favor, without provisions, without ammunition, without can- 
non, without shoes, almost without an army, with a mere handful 
of men against masses, hurled himself on Europe combined, and 
absurdly won victories in the impossible? Whence had issued 
that fulminating convict, who almost without taking breath, 
and with the same set of combatants in hand, pulverized, one 
after the other, the five armies of the emperor of Germany, 
upsetting Beaulieu on Alvinzi, Wurmser on Beanlieu^ Mêlas on 
Wurmser, Mack on Mêlas? Who was this novice in war with 
the efifrontery of a luminary? The çicademical military school 
excommunicated him, and as it lost its footing; hence, the 
implac^able rancor of the old Caesarism against the new ; of the 
regular sword against the fl<aming sword ; and of the exchcHiuer 
against genius. On the 18th of June, 1815, that rancor had 
tiie last word, and beneath Lodi, Montebello, Montenotte, Man- 
tua, Areola, it wrote : Waterloo. A triumph of the médiocres 
which is sweet to the majority. Destiny consented to tins 
irony. In his decline. Napoleon found Wurmser, the younger, 
again in front of him. 

In fact, to get Wurmser, it suflSced to blanch the hair of 

Waterloo is a battle of the first oi'der, won by a captain of 
ihe second. * 

That which must be admired in the battle of Waterloo, i» 
FUngland ; the English firmness, the English resolution, the 
English blood ; the superb thing about England there, no ofi'ence 
to her, was herself. It was not her captain ; it was her army. 

Wellington, oddly ungrateful, declares in a letter to Lord 
Bathursty that bis army, the army which fought on the 18 bh d 


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42 LES miserable:^. 

June, 1815, was a '^ detestable army/* What does that 8om.3F& 
iutermingliug of bones buried beneath the furrows of Waterloo 
think of that? 

England has been too modest in the matter of Wellington. 
To make Wellington so great is to belittle England. Wellington 
is nothing but a hero like ïiiany another. Those Scotch Gra^vs, 
those Horse Guards, those regiments of Maitland and of Mitchell, 
that infantry of Pack and Kempt, that cavalry of Ponsorl.y 
and Somerset, those Highlanders playing the pibix)ch under the 
ihower of grape-shot, those battalions of Rylandt, those utterly 
caw recruits, who hardly knew how to handle a musket holding 
their own against Essling's and Rivoli's old troops, — that is what 
was grand. Wellington was tenacious ; in that lay his merit, 
and we are not seeking to lessen it : but the least of his foot- 
soldiers and of his cavalry would have been as solid as he. 
The iron soldier is worth as much as the Iron Duke. As 
for us, all our glorification goes to the English soldier, to the 
English arm^', to the English people. If trophy there be, it is 
to England that the trophy is due. The column of Waterloo 
would be more just, if, instead of the figure of a roan, it bore 
on high the stitiie of a people. 

But this great England will be angry at what we are saying 
here. She still cherishes, after her own 1688 and our 1789, the 
feudal illusion. She believes in heredity and hierarchy. This 
people, surpassed by none in power and glory, regards itself as 
a nation, and not as a people. And as a people, it wiUingly 
subordinates itself and takes a lord for its head. As a work- 
man, it allows itself to be disdained ; as a soldier, it allows itself 
to be flogged. 

It will be remembered, that at the battle of Innkermann a 
sergeant who had, it appears, saved the arm}*, could not be men- 
tioned by Ix)rd Raglan, as the iLnglish military hierarchy does 
not permit any hero below the grade of an oflScer to be men- 
tioned in the reports. 

That which we admire above all, in an encounter of the 
nature of Waterloo, is the marvellous cleverness of chance. 
A nocturnal rain, the wall of Hougomont, the hollow road of 
Ohain, Grouchy deaf to the cannon. Napoleon's guide deceiving 
him, Billow's guide enlightening him, — the whole of this cata- 
clysm is wonderfully conducted. 

On the whole, let us say it plainly, it was more of a massacre 
than of a battle at Waterloo, 

Of all pitched battles, Waterloo is the one which has the 
Smallest front for such a number of combatants. Napoleon 


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three-quarters of a league ; Wellington, half a league ; Beveuty 
two thousand combatants on each side. From this denseness 
the carnage arose. 

The following calculation has been made, and the following 
proportion established : Loss of men ; at AusteHitz. French, 
fourteen per cent ; Russians, thirty per cent ; Austrians, forty- 
four per cent. At Wagram, French thirteen per cent ; Aus- 
trians, fourteen. At the Moskowa, French, tliirty-seveii pei 
3ent ; Russians, forty-four. At Hautzcn, French, thirteen peï 
cent ; Russians and Prussians, fourteen. At Waterloo, French, 
fifty -six per cent ; the Allies, thirty -one. Total for Waterloo, 
forty-one per cent ; one hundred and forty-four thousand com • 
bâtants ; sixty thousand dead. 

To-da}', the field of Waterloo has the calm which belongs to 
the earth, the impassive support of man, and it resembles all 

At night, moreover, a sort of visionary mist arises from it ; 
and if a traveller strolls there, if he listens, if he watches, if 
he dreams like Virgil in the fatal plains of Philippi, the halluci- 
nation of the catastrophe takes possession of him. TJie fright- 
ful 18th of June lives again ; the false monumeutal hillock 
disappears, the lion vanishes in air, the battle-field resumes its 
reality, lines of infantry undulate over the plain, furious gallops 
traverse the horizon ; the irightened dreamer beholds the flash 
of sabres, the gleam of bayonets, the flare of bombs^ the 
tremendous interchange of thunders ; he hears, as it were, the 
death rattle in the depths of a tomb, the vague clamor of the 
battle phantom ; those shadows are grenadiers, those lights are 
cuirassiers; that skeleton Napoleon, that other skeleton is 
Wellington ; all this no longer exists, and yet it clashes together 
and combats stiU ; and the ravines are empurpled, and the trees 
quiver, and there is fury even in the clouds and in the shadows ; 
fdl those terrible heights, Hougomont, Mont-Saint- Jean, Frische- 
mont, Papelotte, Plancenoit, appear confusedly crowned with 
whirlwinds of spectres engaged in exterminating each other. 

XVI. — Is Waterloo to be considered Good? 

There exists a very respectable liberal school which does not 
hate Waterloo. We do not belong to it. To us, Wiiterl(M> ia 
but the stupefied date of liberty. That such ^n eagle slioiild 
emeige from such an eg<r is certainly unexpected. 

If one places one's self at ttie culminating point of view of the 


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question, Waterloo is intentionally a counter-revolutionarj 
victory. It is Kuropc against Fraiiee ; it is Petersburg, Berlin, 
and Vienna a<',ainst Paris ; it is the statu quo ajçainst the initiative : 
it is the Util of July, 1789, attacked through the 20th of March. 
1815; it is the monarchies clearing the decks in opix>sition to 
the iudoinitable French rioting. The final extinction of that 
vast people which had been in eruption for twenty-six years — 
such was the dream. The solidarity of the Brunswick», the 
Nassaus, the IlomauoflPs, the Hohenzollerns, the Hapshur^ 
with the Bourbons. Waterloo bears divine right on its crupper 
It is true, that the Empire having been despotic, the kingdom 
by the natural reaction of things, was forced to be liberal, and 
that a constitutional order was the unwilling result of Waterloo, 
to the great regret of the conquerors. It is because revolution 
cannot be really conquered, and that being providential and 
absolutely fatal, it is always cropping up afresh: before Water- 
loo, in Bonaparte overthrowing the old thrones ; after Waterloo, 
in Louis XVIII. granting and conforming to the charter. Bona- 
parte places a postilion on the throne of Naples, and a sergeant 
on the throne of Sweden, employing inequality to demonstrate 
equality ; Louis XVllI. at Saint-Ouen countersigns the declara- 
tion of tiie rights of man. If you wish to gain an idea of what 
revolution is, call it Progress ; and if you wish to acquire an idea 
of the nature of progress, call it To-morrow. To-morrow falûls 
its work iiTCsistibly , and it is already fulfilling it to-day. It always 
reaches its goal strangely. It employs Wellington to make of 
Foy, who was only a soldier, an orator. Foy falls at Uougo- 
mont and rises again in the tribune. Thus does progress pra 
cecd. There is no such thing as a bad tool for that workman. 
It does not become disconcerted, but adjusts to its divine work 
the man who has bestridden the Alps, and the good old totter- 
ing invalid of Father Elysée. It makes use of the gouty man 
as well as of the conqueror ; of the conqueror without, of the 
gouty man within. Waterloo, by cutting short the demolition 
of P^uropean thrones by the sword, had no other effect than tc 
cause the revolutionary work to be continued in another direction 
The slashers have finished ; it was the turn of the thinkers. The 
century that Waterloo was intended to arrest has pursued its 
march. That sinister victory was vanquished by liberty. 

In sliort, and incontestably , that which triumphed at Waterloo ; 
that which smiled in Wellington's rear ; that which brought him all 
the marshals' staffs of Europe, including, it is said, the staff of a 
marshal of France ; that which joyously trundled the barrowp foB 
of bones to erect the knoll of the lion ; that which triumphantlj 


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inscribed on that pedestal the date ^^^ June 18, 1815"; that 
which encouraged Bliicher, as he put the flying army to the 
sword ; that which, from the heights of the plateau of Mont- 
Saiut-Jean, hovered over France as over its prey, was the 
counter-revolution. It was the counter-revolution which mur* 
mured that infamous word '* dismemberment." On arriving in 
Paris, it beheld the crater close at hand ; it felt those ashes 
which scorched its feet, and it changed its mind ; it returned to 
the stammer of a charter. 

Let us behold in Waterloo only that which is in Waterloo. 
Of intentional liberty there is none. The counter-revolution 
was invohintarily liberal, in the same manner as, by a corre- 
sponding phenomenon. Napoleon was involuntarily revolution- 
ary. On the 18th of June, 1815, the mounted Robespierre was 
hurled from his saddle. 

XVII. — À Recrudescence op Divine Right. 

End of the dictatorship. A whole European system crumbled 

The Empire sank into a gloom which resembled that of the 
Roman world as it expired. Again we behold the abyss, as in 
the days of the barbarians ; only the barbarism of 1815, which 
must be called by its pet name of the counter-revolution, was not 
long breathed, soon fell to panting, and halted short. The Em- 
pire was bewept, — let us acknowledge the fact, — and bewept 
by heroic eyes. If glory lies in the sword converted into a 
sceptre, the Empire had been glory in person. It had diflfused 
over the earth all the light which tyranny can give — a sombre 
light. We will say more ; an obscure light. Compared to the 
true daylight, it is night. This disappearance of night produces 
the effect of an eclipse. 

Louis XVIII. re-entered Paris. The circling dances of the 8th 
of July effaced the enthusiasms of the 20th of March. The 
Corsican became the antithesis of the Bearnese. The flag on the 
dome of the Tuileries was white. The exile reigned. Hartwell's 
pine table took its place in front of the fleur-de-lys-strewn throne 
of Louis XIV. Bou\ânes and Fontenoy were mentioned as 
though they had taken place on the preceding day, Austerlitz 
having become antiquated. The altar and the throne frater- 
nized majestically. One of the most undisputed forms of the 
health of society in the nineteenth century was established 
over France, and over the continent. Europe adopted the 
white cockade. Trestaillon was celebrated. The device 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

46 LES Misérables. 

non pluribus impar re-appeared on the stone rays representing 
a sun upon the front of the barriicks on the Quai d'Orsay. 
Where there had been an Imperuil Guard, there was now a red 
house. The Are du Carrousel, all laden with badly borne vic- 
tories, thrown out of its element among these novelties, a little 
ashamed, it .may be, of Marengo and Areola, extricated itself 
from its predicament with the statue of the Due d'Angoulêrae. 
The cemetery of the Madeleine, a terrible pauper's grave in 
1793, was covered with jasper and marble, since the bones of 
Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette lay in that dust. 

In the moat of Vincennes a sepulchral shaft sprang from the 
earth, recalling the fact that the Due d*Enghien had iJerished 
in the very month when Napoleon was crowned. Pope Pius 
VII., who had performed the coronation very near this death, 
tranquilly bestowed his blessing on the fall as he had bestowed 
it on the elevation. At Schoenbrunn there wjis a little shadow, 
aged four, whom it was seditious to call th ; King of Rome. 
And these things took plut-e, and the kings resumed their 
thrones, and the master of Europe was put in a cage, and the 
old regime became the new regime, and all the shadows and all 
the light of the earth changed place, because, on the afternoon 
of a certain summer's day, a shepherd said to a Prussian in the 
forest, " Go this way, and not that ! " 

This 1815 was a sort of lugubrious April. Ancient unhealthy 
and poisonous realities were covered with new appearances. A 
lie wedded 1789 ; the right divine was masked under a charter ; 
fictions became constitutional ; prejudices, superstitions, and 
mental reservations, with Article 14 in the heart, were var- 
nished over with liberalism. It was the serpent's change of 

Man had been rendered both greater and smaller by Napo- 
leon. Under this reign of splendid matter, the ideal had received 
the strange name of ideology ! It is a grave imprudence in a 
great man to turn the future into derision. The populace, how- 
ever, that food for cannon which is so fond of the cannoneer, 
sought him with its glance. Where is he? What is he doing V 
*' Napoleon is dead," said a passer-by to a veteran of Marengo 
and Waterloo. '^He dead!" cried the soldier; "you don't 
know him." Imagination distrusted this man, even when over- 
thrown. The depths of Europe were full of darkness after 
Waterloo. Something enormous remained long empt}' through 
Napoleon's disai)i)oarance. 

The kings placed themselves in this void. Ancient Europe 
profited by it to undertake reforms. There was a H0I3' Alliance ; 


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Betie-Alliance^ Beautiful Alliance, the fatal field of Waterloo 
had said in advance. 

In pr<isence and in face of that antique Europe reconstructed, 
the features of a new France were sketched out. The future, 
which the îimperor h:id rallied, made its entry. On its brow it 
bore the star. Liberty. The glowing eyes of all young genera- 
tions were turned on it. Singular fact! people were, at one 
and the same time, in love with the future, Liberty, and the 
past, Natx>leon. Defeat had rendered the vanquished greater. 
Bouaparte fallçn seemed more lofty than Napoleon erect. Those 
who had triumphed were alarmed. England had him guarded 
by Hudson Lowe, and France had him watched by Montchenu 
His folded arms became a source of uneasiness to thrones. 
Alexander called him "my sleeplessness." This terror was 
the result of tbe quantity of revolution wbich was contained in 
him. That is what explains and excuses Bonapartist liberalism. 
This phantom caused the old world to tremble. The kings 
reigned, but ill at their ease, witti the rock of Saint Helena on 
the horizon. * 

While Napoleon was passing through the death struggle at 
Longwood, the sixty thousand men who had fallen on the field 
of Waterloo were quietly rotting, and something of their peace 
was shed abroad over the world. The Congress of Vienna 
made the treaties in 1815, and Europe called this the Restora- 

This is what Waterloo was. 

But wliat matters it to the Infinite? all that tempest, all that 
cloud, that war, then that peace? All that darkness did not 
trouble for a moment the light of that immense Eye before 
which a gnib skipping from one blade of grass to another equals 
the eagle soaring from belfry to belfry on the towers of Nôtre 

XVIII. — The Battle-Field at Night. 

Let as retnrn — it is a necessity in this book — to that fatal 

On the 18th of June the moon was full. Its light favored 
Blûcher's ferocious pursuit, betrayed the traces of the fugitives, 
delivered up that disastrous mass to the eager Prussian cavalr\-, 
and aided the massacre. Such tragic fiivors of the night do 
oecnr sometimes during catastrophes. 

After the last cannon-shot had been fired, the plain of Mont 
Saint-Jean remained deserted. 


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The English occupied the encampment of the French ; it '4 
the usual sign of victory to sleep in the bed of the vanquished. 
They established their bivouac beyond Rossomme. The Prus- 
sians, let loose on the retreating rout, pushed forward. Wel- 
lington went to the village of Waterloo to draw up his report to 
Lord Bathurst. 

If ever the sic vos non vobis was applicable, it certainly is to 
that village of Waterloo. Waterloo took no part, aud lay half 
a league from the scene of action. Mont-Saint- J can was can- 
nonaded, Hougumont was burned, La Haie-Sainte was taken 
by assault, Papelottc was burned, Plancenoit was burned, La 
Belle- Alliance beheld the embrace of the two conquerors ; these 
names are hardly known, and Waterloo, which worked not iu 
the battle, bears off all tlie honor. 

We are not of the number of those who flatter war ; when 
the occasion presents itself, we tell the truth about it. War 
has frightful beauties which we have not concealed ; it has also, 
we acknowledge, some hideous features. One of the most sur- 
prising is the prompt stripping of the bodies of the dead after 
the victory. The dawn which follows a battle always rises o\ 
naked corpses. 

Who does this? Who thus soils the triumph? What hideous, 
furtive hand is that which is slipped into the pocket of victory ? 
What picki)ockets are they who ply their trade in the rear elf 
glory ? Some pliilosophers — Voltaire among the number — af • 
firm that it is precisely those persons have made the glorj*. It 
is the same men, they say ; there is no relief corps ; those who 
are erect pillage those who are prone on the earth. The hero 
of the day is the vampire of the night. One has assuredly the 
right, after all, to strip a corpse a bit when one is the author of 
that corpse. For our own part, we do not think so ; it seems 
to us impossible that the same hand should pluck laurels and 
purloin the shoes from a dead man. 

One thing is certain, which is, that generall}* after conquerors 
follow thieves. But let us leave the soldier, especially the con- 
temporary soldier, out of the question. 

Every army has a rear -guard, and it is that which must b« 
blamed. Bat-like creatures, half brigands and lackeys ; all th*i 
sorts of vespertillos that that twilight called war engenders; 
wearers of uniforms, who tîike no part in the fighting ; pretended 
invalids ; formidable limpers ; interloping sutlers, trotting alon^^ 
in little carts, sometimes accompanied by their wives, and steal* 
ing tilings which they sell again ; beggars offering themselvei 
as guides to ofiScers ; soldiers' servants ; marauders ; armies cm 


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VOSETTB. 49 inarch in days gone by, — we are not speaking of the près 
cnt, — dragged all this behind them, so that in the special Ian 
guage they are called '' stragglera." No army, no nation, was 
responsible for those beings ; they spoke Italian and followed 
the Germans, then spoke French and followed the English. It 
was by one of these wretches, a Spanish straggler who spoke 
French, that the Marquis of Fervacques, deceived b}' his Picard 
jargon, and taking him for one of our own men, was traitor- 
jMsiy slaiu and robbed on the battle-field itself, in the course of 
:hc night which followed the victory of Cerisoles. The rascal 
sprang from this marauding. The detestable maxim. Live on 
the enemy! produced this leprosy, which a strict discipline alone 
could heal. There are reputations which ai-e deceptive ; one 
docs not always know why certain generals, grea^ in other 
directions, have been so popular. Turenne was adored by his 
rtoldiers because he tolerated pillage ; evil permitted constitutes 
part of goodness. Turenne was so good that lie allowed the 
Palatinate to be delivered over to fire and blood. The ma- 
."auders in the train of an army were more or less in number, 
according as the chief was more or less severe. Hoche and 
Marceau had no stragglers; Wellington had few, and we do 
him the justice to mention it. 

Nevertheless, on the night from the 18th to the 19th of June, 
the dead were robbed. Wellington was rigid ; he gave orders 
that any one caught in the act should be shot ; but rapine is 
tenacious. The marauders stole in one corner of the battle- 
Held while others were being shot in another. 

The moon was sinister over this plain. 

Towards midnight, a man was prowling about, or rather, 
climbing in the direction of the hollow road of Chain. To all 
appearance he was one of those whom we have just described, 
— neither English nor French, neither peasant nor soldier, less 
a man than a ghoul attracted by the scent of the dead bodies, 
having theft for his victory, and come to rifle Waterloo. He 
was clad in a blouse that was something like a great coat ; he 
was uneasy and audacious ; he walked forwards and gazed be« 
hind him. Who was this man? The night probably knew more 
of him than the day. He had no sack, but evidently he had large 
lK>ckets under his coat. From time to time he halted, scruti- 
nized the plain around him as though to see whether he were 
observed, bent over abruptly, disturbed something silent and 
Kiotionless on the ground, then rose and fled. His sliding mo- 
lion, his attitudes, his mysterious and rapid gestures, caused 


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Jim to resemble those twilight larvae which haant rains, ^nA 
whieii aiieient Norman legends call tlie AUeure. 

Certain nocturnal wading birds produce these silhouettée 
among the marHhcs. 

A glance capable of piercing all that mist deeply would have 
perceived at some distance a sort of little sutler's wagon witl 
a fluted wicker hood, harnessed to a famisiied nag which wai 
cropping the grass across its bit as it halted, hidden, as it were 
behind the hovel which adjoins the highway to Nivelles, at tlu 
angle of the road from Mont-Saint-Jean to Braiiie TAlleud : 
and in the wagon, a sort of woman seated on coffers and pack- 
ages. Perhaps there was some connection between that wagon 
and that prowler. 

The darkness was serene. Not a cloud in the zenith. What 
matters it if the earth be red ! the moon remains white ; 
these are the indifferences of the sky. In the fields, branches of 
trees broken by grape-shot, but not fallen, upheld by their bark, 
swayed gently in the breeze of night. A breath, almost a 
respiration, moved the shrubbery. Quivers which resembled 
the departure of souls ran through the grass. 

In the distance the coming and going of patrols and the geor 
eral rounds of the English camp were audible. 

Hougomont and La Ilaie-Sainte continued to burn, forming, 
one in the west, the other in the east, two great flames which 
were joined by the cordon of bivouac fires of the English, like 
a necklace of rubies with two carbuncles at the extremities, aa 
they extended in an immense semicircle over the hills along the 

We have described the catastrophe of the road of Ohi»io. 
The heart is terrified at the thought of what that death must 
have been to so many brave men. 

If there is anything terrible, if there exists a reality whicl 
surpasses dreams, it is this : to live, to see the sun ; to be ic 
full possession of virile force ; to possess health and joy ; tc 
laugh valiantly ; to rush towards a glory which one sees dazzling 
in front of one ; to feel in one's breast lungs which breathe, a 
heart which beats, a will which reasons ; to speak, think, hope, 
love ; to have a mother, to have a wife, to have children ; to 
have the light — and all at once, in the space of a shout, in less 
than a minute, to sink into an abyss ; to fall, to roll, to crush, 
to be crushed ; to see ears of wheat, flowers, leaves, branches ; 
not to be able to catch hold of anything ; to feel one's sword 
useless, men beneath one, horses on top of one ; to struggle in 
vain, since one's bones have been broken hy some kick in the 


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darkneflB ; to feel a heel which makes one's eyes start from theii 
sockets ; to bite horses* shoes in one's rage ; to stifle, to yell, to 
writhe; to be beneath, and to say to one's self, "But just a 
little while ago I was a living man ! " 

There, where that lamentable disaster had uttered its death-- 
rattle, all was silence now. The edges of the hollow road 
were encumbered with horses and riders, inextricably heaped 
up. Terrible entanglement ! There was no longer any slope, 
for the corpses had levelled the road with the plain, and reached 
the brim like a well-filled bushel of barley. A heap of dead 
bodies in the upper part, a river of blood in the lower part— « 
such was that road on the evening of the 18th of June, 1815. 
The blood ran even to the Nivelles highway, and there over- 
flowed in a large pool in front of the abatis of trees which barred 
the way, at a spot which is still pointed out. 

It will be remembered that it was at the opposite point, 
in the direction of the Genappe road, that the destruction of the 
cuirassiers had taken place. The thickness of the layer of 
bodies was proportioned to the depth of the hollow road. 
Towards the middle, at the point where it became level, where 
Delort's division had passed, the layer of corpses was thinner. 

The nocturnal prowler whom we have just shown to the 
reader was going in that direction. He was seartîhing that vast 
tomb. He gazed about. He passed the dead in some sort of 
hideous review. He walked with his feet in the blood. 

All at once he paused. 

A few paces in front of him, in the hollow road, at the point 
where the pile of dead came to an end, an open hand, illumined 
by the moon, projected from beneath that heap of men. Tliai 
hand had on its finger something sparkling, which was a ring ol 

The man bent over, remained in a crouchmg attituile for f 
moment, and when he rose there was no longer a ring on the hand 

He did not precisely rise ; he remained in a stooping ana 
frightened attitude, with his back turned to the heap of dead» 
icanning the horizon on his knees, with the whole upper portiot. 
of his body supported on his two forefingers, which rested on tli« 
earth, and his head peering above the edge of the hollow road. 
The jackal's four paws suit some actions. 

Then coming to a decision, he rose to his feet. 

At that moment, he gave a terrible start. He felt some one 
clutch him from behind. 

He wheeled roimd ; it was the open hand, which had closed^ 
«nd had seized the skirt of his coat. 


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An bouest man would have been terrified ; this man bur^i 
into a laugh. 

'* Come," said he, " it's only a dead body. I prefer a spot^H 
to a goiularme." 

Hut the hand weakened and released him. Effort is quickly 
exhausted in the grave. 

*' Well now," said the prowler, " is that dead fellow alive? 
Let's see." 

He bent down again, fumbled among the heap, pushed aside 
everything that was in his way, seized the hand, grasped the 
arm, freed the head, pulled out the body, and a few momenta 
later he was dragging the lifeless, or at least the uneouscioug, 
man, through the shadows of hollow road. He was a cuirassiei, 
an offlcer, and even an officer of considerable rank; a largi 
gold epauli'tte peeped from beneath the cuirass ; this officer m 
longer possessed a helmet. A furious sword-cut had 8carre»i 
his face, where nothing was discernible but blood. 

However, he did not appear to have any broken limbs, and, 
by some happy chance, if that word is permissible here, th? 
dead had been vaulted above him in such a uiauner as to pre- 
serve him from being crushed. His eyes were still closed. 

On his cuirass he wore the silver cross of the Legion o( 

The prowler tore off this cross, which disappeared into oni 
of the gulfs which he had l)eneath his great coat. 

Then he felt of the officer's fob, discovered a watch there, 
and took possession of it. Next he searched his waistcoa% 
found a purse and pocketed it. 

When he had arrived at this sts^e of succor which he wa4 
administering to this dying man, the officer opened his eyes. 

"Thanks," he said feebly. 

The abruptness of the movements of the man who was manip 
alating him, the freshness of the night, the air which he couM 
nhule freely, had roused him from his lethargy. 

The prowler made no reply. He raised his head. A sourJ 
of footsteps was audible in the plain; some patrol was probably 

The officer murmured, for the death agony was still in hU 
voice : — 

'* Who won the battle?" 

**The English," answered the prowler. 

The officer went on : — 

" I.<ook In my pockets; you will find a watch and a put8# 
Take them," 


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It was already done. 

The prowler executed the required feint, and said : — 

" There is nothing there." 

"I have been robbed," said the officer; "I am sorry foi 
that. You should have had them." 

The steps of the patrol became more and more distinct. 

" Some one is coming," said the prowler, with the movement 
of a man who is taking his departure. 

The officer raised his arm feebly, and detained him. 

" You have saved my life. Who are you ? " 

The prowler answered rapidly, and in a low voice : — 

" Like yourself, I belonged to the French army. I must 
leave you. If they were to catch me, they would shoot me. I 
have saved your life. Now get out of the scrape yourself." 

" What is your rank ? " 


" What is your name ? ^ 


"I shall not forget that name," said the officer; **and do 
you remember mine. My name is Pontmercy." 

L — Number 24,601 becomes Number 9,430. 

Jean Valjban had been recaptured. 

The reader will be grateful to us if we pass rapidly over the 
sad details. We will confine ourselves to transcribing two 
paragi-aphs published by the journals of that day, a few months 
after the surprising events which had taken place at M. sur M. 

These articles are rather summary. It must be remembered, 
that at that epoch the Gazette des Tribunaux was not yet iu 

We borrow the first from the Drapeau Blano, It bears the 
date of July 25, 1823. 

An arrondissement of the Pas de Calais has just heen the theatre of an 
event qaite oat of the ordinary course. A man, >vho was a stranger in tlie 
Department, and who bore the name of M. Madeleine, had, thanks to new 
methods, resuscitated some years ago an ancient local industry, tlie manu* 
facture of jet and of black glass trinkets. He had made his fortune in 
the business, and that of the arrondissement as well, we will admit. H« 


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htid been appointed mayor, in recognition of hU aenrlcet. The police 4li 

coTered that M. Madeleine wa« no other than an ex-convict who had 
broken his ban, condemned in 1790 for theft, and named Jean Valjean 
Jean Valjean has been recommitted to prison. It appears that previoui 
to Iiis arrest he had sacceeded in withdrawing from the hands of M. Laf- 
fitte, a sum of over Iialf a million wliicli he Iiad lodged tliere, and which 
he had, moreover, and by perfectly legitimate means, acquired in his busi 
ness. No one has been able to discover where Jean Valjean has concealed 
tliis money since his return to prison at Tonlon. 

The second article, which enters a little more into detail, is 
aa extract from the Journal de Paris^ of the same date. 

A former convict, who had been liberated, named Jean Valjean, has just 
appeared before the Court of Assizes of the Var, under circumstances cal- 
culated to attract attention. This wretcli had succeeded in escaping the 
vigilance of the police, he had changed his name, and had succ«eded in 
getting himself appointed mayor of one of our small northern towns ; in 
this town he had established a considerable commerce. He has at last 
been unmasked and arrested, thanks to the indefatigable zeal of the public 
prosecutor. He had for his concubine a woman of the town, who died of a 
shock at the moment of liis arrest. This scoundrel, who is endowed with 
Herculean strength, fountl means to escape; but three or four days after 
his flight the police laid their hands on him once more, in Paris itself, at 
the very moment when he was entering one of those little vehicles which 
run between the capital and the village of Montfermeil (Seine-et-Oise). He 
is said to have profited by this interval of three or four days of lil>erty, to 
withdraw a considerable sum deposited by him with one of our leading 
bankers. This sum has been estimated at six or seven hundred thousand 
francs. U the indictment is to be trusted, he has hidden it in some place 
known to himself alone, and it has not been possible to lay hands on iL 
However that may Ikî, the said Jean Valjean has just been brought before 
the Assizes of the Department of the Var as accused of highway robbery 
accompanied with violence, about eight years ago, on the person of one of 
those honest children who, as the patriarch of Ferney lias said, in immortal 

•• . . . Arrive from Savoy every year, 
Aad who, with gentle bands, do clear 
Those long canals choked up with sooft.** 

This bandit refused to defend himself. It was proved by the akilfiil 
%nd eloquent representative of the public prosecutor, that the theft waa 
committed in complicity with others, and that Jean Valjean was a member 
9f a band of robbers in the south. Jean Valjean was pronounced guilty 
\m\ was condemned to the death penalty in consequence. This criminal 
refused to lodge an appeal. The king, in his inexhaustible clemency, haa 
deigned to commute his penalty to that of penal servitude for life. Jeaa 
Valjean was immediately taken to the prison at Toulon. 

The reader has not forgotten that Jean Valjean had relig^iom 
habits at M. snr M. Sorae papers, amon^ others the CoTistitu 
tional^ presented this commutation as a triumph of tbe piiesUj 


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JeaD Yaljean changed his number in the galleys. He was 
called 9,430. 

However, and we will mention it at once in order that we may 
not be obliged to recur to the subject, the prosperity of M. sur 
M. vanished with M. Madeleine ; all that he had foreseen during 
his night of fever and hesitation was realized ; lacking him, 
there actually was a soul lacking. After this fall, there took 
place at M. sur M. that egotistical division of great existences 
which have fallen, that fatal dismemberment of flourishing things 
which is accomplished every day, obscurely, in the human com- 
mnnity, and which history has noted only once, because it 
occurred after the death of Alexander. Lieutenants are 
crowned kings ; superintendents improvise manufacturers out 
of tliemselves. Envious rivalries arose. M. Madeleine's vast 
workshops were shut ; his buildings fell to ruin, his workmen 
were scattered. Some of them quitted the country, others 
abandoned the trade. Thenceforth, everything was done on a 
small scale, instead of on a grand scale ; for lucre instead of 
the general good. There was no longer a centre ; everywhere 
there was competition and animosity. M. Madeleine had 
reigned over all and directed all. No sooner had he fallen, 
than each pulled things to himself ; the spirit of combat suc- 
ceeded to the spirit of organization, bitterness to cordialit}', 
hatred of one another to the benevolence of the founder towards 
all ; the threads which M. Madeleine had set were tangled and 
broken, the methods were adulterated, the products were debased, 
confidence was killed ; the market dimiuished, for lack of orders ; 
salaries were reduced, the workshops stood still, bankrupty ar- 
rived. And then there was nothing more for the poor. Ail 
had vanished. 

The state itself perceived that some one had been crushed 
somewhere. Less than four years after the judgment of the 
Conrt of Assizes establishing the identity of Jean Val jean and 
M. Madeleine, for the benelit of the galleys, the cost of collect- 
ing taxes had doubled in the an-ondissement of M. sur M. ; and 
M. de Villèlc called attention to the fact in the rostrum, in the 
month of February, 1827. 

II. — In which the Reader will peruse Two Verses, which 


Before proceeding further, it will be to the purpose to nar- 
rate in some detail, a singular occurrence which took place at 
about the same epoch, in Montfermeil, and which is not lacking 
ia coincidence with certain conjectures of the indictment. 



There exists in the region of Montfcrmeil a very ancient 
superstition, which is all the more curious and all the more 
precious, because a popular superstition in the vicinity of Paris 
is like an aloe in Siberia. We are among those who respect 
everything which is in the nature of a rare plant. Here, then, 
is the superstition of Montfermeil : it is thought that the devil, 
from time immemorial, has selected the forest as a hiding-plac« 
for his treasures. Good wives alKrm that it is no rarity to en- 
counter at nightfall, in sechided nooks of the forest, a black 
man with the air of a carter or a wood-chopper, wearing wooden 
shoes, clad in trousers and a blouse of linen, and recognizable 
by the fact, that, instead of a cap or hat, he has two immense 
horns on his head. This ought, in fact, to render him recog* 
nizable. This man is habitually engaged in digging a hole. 
There are three ways of proGting by such an encounter. The 
first is to approach the man and speak to him. Then it is seen 
that the man is simply a peasant, that he appears black because 
it is nightfall ; that he is not digging any hole whatever, but is 
cutting grass for his cows, and that what had been taken for 
horns is nothing but a dung-fork which he is carrying on his 
back, and whose teeth, thanks to the perspective of evening, 
seemed to spring from his head. The man returns home and 
dies within the week. The second way is to watch him, to wait 
until he has dug his hole, until he has filled it and has gone 
away ; then to run with great speed to the trench, to open it 
once more, and to seize the "treasure" which the black man 
has necessarily placed there. In this case one dies within the 
month. Finally, the last method is not to speak to the black 
man, not to look at him, and to flee at the best speed of one's 
legs. One then dies within the year. 

As all three methods are attended with their special incon- 
veniences, the second, which at all events, presents some advan- 
tages, among others that of possessing a treasure, if only for a 
month, is the one most generally adopted. So bold men, who 
are tempted by every chance, have quite frequentlj*, as we 
are assured, opened the holes excavated by the black man, 
and tried to rob the devil. The success of the operation appeai-s 
to be but moderate. At least, if the tradition is to be believed, 
and in particular the two enigmatical lines in barbarous 
Latin, which an evil Norman monk, a bit of a sorcerer, naratd 
Tryphon has loft on this subject. This Tryphon is buried at tlic 
Abbey of Saint-Georges de Bocherville, near Rouen, and tends ' 
spawn on his grave. 

Accordingly, enormous efforts are made. Such trenches are 


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crdinarily extremely deep ; a man sweats, digs, toils all night 
— for it must be done at night ; he wets his shirt, burns out his 
candle, breaks his mattock, and when he arrives at the bottom 
of the hole, when he lays his hand on the "treasure," what does 
he find? What is the devil's ti'easure? A sou, sometimes a 
crown-piece, a stone, a skeleton, a bleeding body, sometimes a 
spectre folded in four like a sheet of paper in a portfolio, some- 
times nothing. This is what Tryphon's verses seem to announce 
to the indiscreet and curious : — 

" Fodit, et in fossa thesauros condit opaca, 
As, nummas, lapides, cadaver, simulacra, nihilque." 

It seems that in our day there is sometimes found a powder- 
horn with bullets, sometimes an old pack of cards greasy and 
worn, which has evidently served the devil. Tryphon does not 
record these two finds, since Tryphon lived in the twelfth 
century, and since the devil does not appear to have had the 
wit to invent powder before Roger Bacon's time, and cards 
before the time of Charles VI. 

Moreover, if one plays at cards, one is sure to lose all that 
one possesses ! and as for the powder in the horn, it possesses 
the property of making your gun burst in your face. 

Now, a very short time after the epoch when it seemed to 
the prosecuting attorney that the liberated convict Jean Val- 
jean during his flight of several days had been prowling around 
Montfermeil, it was remarked in that village that a certain old 
road-laborer, named Boulatruelle, had " peculiar ways" in the 
forest. People thereabouts thought they knew that this Boula- 
truelle had been in the galleys. He was subjected to. certain 
police supervision, and, as he could find work nowhere, the 
administration employed him at reduced rates as a road-mender 
on the cross-road from Gagny to Lagny. 

This Boulatruelle was a -man who was viewed with disfavor 
by the inhabitants of the district as too respectful, too humble, 
too prompt in removing his cap to every one, and trembling and 
smiling in the presence of the gendarmes, — probably aflili- 
ated to robber bands, they said; suspected of lying in am- 
bush at verge of copses at nightfall. The only thing in his 
favor was that he was a drunkard. 

This is what people thought they had noticed : — 

Of late, Boulatruelle had taken to quitting his task of stone 
breaking and care of the road at a very eaiiy hour, and to be- 
taking himself to the forest with his pickaxe. He was encoun- 
tered towards evening in the most deserted clearings, in the 


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wildest thickens ; aud he had the api>earaDce of being in searcl 
of sjiucthiug, aud boiuetiines he was digging lioles. The good- 
wive» who passed took him at first for Beelzebub : then thej 
recognized Boiilatruelle, aud were not in the least reassured 
thereby. These encountera seemed to cause Boulatruelle a 
lively displeasure. It was evident that he sought to hide, and 
that there was some mystery in what he was doing. 

It was said in the village: '^It is clear that the devil had 
appeared. Boulatruelle has seen him, and is on the search 
lu sooth, he is cuuuiug enough to pocket Lucifer's lioanl." 

The Voltairians added, '* Will Boulatruelle catch the devil, or 
will the devil catch Boulatruelle?" The old women made a 
great many signs of the cross. 

In the meantime, Boulatruelle's manœuvres in the forest 
ceased ; and he resumed his regular occupation of road- 
mending; and people gossiped of something else. 

Some persons, however, were still curious, suimising that in 
all this there was probably no fabulous treasure of tlie legends, 
but some fine windfall of a more serious and palpable sort than 
the devil's bank-bills, and that the road-mender had half discov- 
ered the secret. The most ^^ puzzled '* were the schoolmaster and 
Thénardier, the proprietor of the tavern, who was everybody's 
friend, and had not disdained to ally himself with Boulatruelle. 

'*He has been in the galleys," said Thénardier. ''Eh! 
Good God ! uo one knows who has been there or will be there." 

One evening the schoolmaster aflirmed that in former times 
the law would have instituted au inquiry as to what Boulatruelle 
did in the forest, and that the latter would have been forced to 
speak, and that he would have been put to the torture in case 
of need, and that Boulatruelle would not have resisted the 
water test, for example. ^' Let us put him to the wine test." 
3aîd Thénardier. 

They made an effort, and got the old road-mender to drink- 
ing. Boulatruelle drank an enormous amount, but said very 
little. He combined with admirable art, and in masterly pro- 
portioua, the thirst of a gormandizer with the discretion of a 
judge. Nevertheless, by diut of returning to the charge and 
of comparing and putting together the few obscarc words which 
he did allow to escape him, this is what Thénardier and the 
schoolmaster imagined that they had made out: — 

One morning, when Boulatruelle was on his way to his work, 
at daybreak, he had been surprised to see, at a nook of the 
forest, in the underbrush, a shovel and a pickaxe, cancecdedf m 
Urne might say. 


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However, ne might have supposed that they were probably 
the shovel and pick of Father Six-Fours, the water-carrier, aud 
would have thought no more about it. But, on the evening of 
that day, he saw, without being seen himself, as he was hidden 
by a large tree, "a person who did not belong in those parts, 
aud whom he, Boulatruelle, knew well," directing his steps 
towards the densest part of the wood. Translation by Thénar- 
dier: A comrade of the galleys. Boulatruelle obstinately refuseil 
to reveal his name. This person carried a package — something 
square, like a large box or a small trunk. Surprise on the part 
ol Boulatruelle. However, it was only after the expiration of 
seven or eight minutes that the idea of following that *' person " 
had occurred to him. But it was too late ; the person was already 
in the thicket, night had descended, and Boulatruelle had not been 
able to catch up with him. Then he had adopted the course of 
watching for liiiii at the edge of the woods. ** It was moonlight." 
Two or three hours later, Boulatruelle had seen this person 
emerge from the brushwood, carrying no longer the coffer, but 
a shovel and pick. Boulatruelle had allowed the |)erson to pass, 
and had not dreamed of accosting him, because he said to himself 
that the other man was three times as strong as he was, and armed 
with a pickaxe, and that he would probably knock him over the 
heail on recognizing him, and on perceiving that he was rec- 
ognized. Touching effusion of two old comrades on meeting 
again. But the shovel and pick had served as a ray of light to 
Boulatruelle ; he had hastened to the thicket in the morning, and 
had found neither shovel nor pick. From this he had drawn the 
inference that this person, once in the forest, had dug a hole with 
his pick, burit'd the coffer, and reclosed the hole witli his shovel, 
^ow, the coffer was too small to contain a bo<ly ; therefore it con- 
tained money. Hence his researches. Boulatruelle had explored, 
sounded, searched the entire forest and the thicket, and had dug 
wherever the earth appeared to him to have been rect-ntly turned 
up. In vain. 

He had •* ferreted out " nothing. No one in Montfermeil 
thought any more about it. There w'**'e only a few brave gossips, 
who said, ** You may be certain that the mender on the Gagny 
road did not take all that trouble for nothing; he was sure that 
the devil had come." 


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111. — The Ankle-Chain must have undergone a Ckrtaik 

Prepakatory Manipulation to be thus broken 

WITH A Blow from a Hammer. 

Towards the end of October, In that same year, 1823, Um 

inhabitants of Toulon beheld the entry into their port, aftei 
heavy weather, and for the purpose of repairing some damages, 
of tlie ship Orion^ which was employed later at Brest as a 
8:;hool-Bhip, and which then formed a part of the Mediterranean 

This vessel, battered as it was, — for the sea had handled it 
roughly, — produced a fine effect as it entered the roads. It 
flew some colors which procured for it the regulation salute of 
eleven guns, which it returned, shot for shot; total, twenty- 
two. It has been calculated that what with salvos, rojal and 
military politenesses, courteous exchanges of uproar, sisals 
of etiquette, formalities of roadsteads aud citadels, sunrises 
and sunsets, saluted every day by all fortresses and all ships of 
war, openings and closings of ports, etc., the civilized world, 
discharged all over the earth, in the course of four and twenty 
hours, one hundred and fifty thousand useless shots. At sis 
francs the shot, that comes to nine hundred thousand francs a 
day, three hundred millions a year, which vanish in smoke. Thia 
Ib a mere detail. All this time the poor were dying of hanger. 

The year 1823 was what the Restoration called *'* the epoch 
of the Spanish war." 

This war contained many events in one, and a quantity of 
peculiarities. A grand family affair for the house of Bourbon ; 
the branch of France succoring and protecting the bruncii of 
Madrid, that is to say, performing an act devolving on the 
elder; an apparent return to our national traditions, compli- 
cated by servitude and by subjection to the cabinets of the 
North; M. le Duc d'Aiigoulême, surnamed by the libérai 
sheets the hero of Andujar^ compressing in a triumphal attitude 
that was somewhat contradicted by his peaceable air, the 
ancient and very powerful terrorism of the Holy Office at vari- 
ance with the chimerical terrorism of the liberals; the sans- 
cuUottea resuscitated, to the great terror of dowagers, under the 
name of descamîsados ; monarchy opposing an obstacle to 
progress described as anarchy; the theories of '89 ronghh 
nterrupted in the sap , a European halt, called to the FVencb 
idea, which was making the tour of the world: beside tlie sot 


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f>f France as generalissimo, the Prince dc Carignan, afterwards 
Charles Albert, enrolling himself in that crusade of kings 
agaiust people as a volunteer, with grenadier epaulets of red 
worsted; the soldiers of the Empire setting out on a fresh 
campaign, but aged, saddened, after eight years of repose, and 
under the white cockade ; the tricolored standard waved abroad 
by a heroic handful of Frenchmen, as the white standard had 
been tliirty years earlier at Coblentz; monks mingled with our 
Iroops ; the spirit of liberty and of novelty brought to its 
senses by bayonets; principles slaughtered by canonnades; 
France undoing by her arms that which she had done hy her 
mind ; in addition to this, hostile leaders sold, soldiers hesitat- 
ing, cities besieged by millions; no military perils, and yet 
possible explosions, as in' every mine which is surprised and 
invaded ; but little bloodshed, little honor won, shame foi 
some, glory for no one. Such was this war, made by the 
princes descended from Louis XIV., and conducted by gen- 
erals who bad been under Napoleon. Its sad fate was to recall 
neither the grand war nor grand politics. 

Some feats of arms were serious ; the taking of the Trocadénv 
among others, was a fine military action ; but after all, we repeat^ 
the trumpets of this war give back a cracked sound, the whole 
eflFect was suspicious ; history approves of France for making a 
difficulty about accepting this false triumph. It seemed evident 
that certain Spanish officers charged with resistance yielded too 
easily ; the idea of corruption was connected with the victory ; 
it ap|)ears as though generals and not battles had been won, 
and the conquering soldier returned humiliated. A debasing 
war, in short, in which the Bank of Frarice could be read in 
the folds of the flag. 

Soldiers of the war of 1808, on whom Saragossa had fallen 
in formidable ruin, frowned in 1823 at the easy surrender of 
citadels, and began to regret Palafox. It is the nature of 
France to prefer to have Rostopchine rather than Ballesteros 
in front of her. 

From a still more serious point of view, and one which it is 
also proper to insist u|x>n here, this war, which wounded the 
military spirit of France, enraged the democratic spirit. It 
was an enterprise of inthralment. In that campaign, the object 
of the French soldier, the son of democracy, was the conquest 
of a yoke for others. A hideous contradiction. France is 
made to arouse the soul of nations, not to stifle it. All the 
revolutions of Europe since 1792 are the French Revolutior 


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liberty darts rays from France. That is a solar fact. BUnd 

is he who will uot see ! It was Bonaparte who said it. 

The war of 1823, an outrage on tiie genei*ous Spanish nation, 
was then, at the same time, an outrage on the French Revolu- 
tion. It was France who committed this monstrous violence ; 
by foul means, for, with the exception of wars of liberation, 
everything tliat armies do is by foul means. The woixis pa^ive 
obedience indicate this. An army is a strange masterpiece of 
combination where force results from an enormous sum of 
impotence. Thus is war, made by humanity against humanity, 
despite humanity, explained. 

As for the Bourbons, the war of 1823 was fatal to them. 
They took it for a success. They did not perceive the danger 
that lies in having an idea slain to 'order. The}' went astray, 
in their innocence, to such a degree that they introduced the 
immense enfeeblement of a crime into their establishment as an 
element of strength. The spirit of the ambush entered into 
their politics. 1830 had its germ in 1823 The Spanish cam- 
paign became in their counsels an argument for force and for 
adventures by right Divine. France, having re-established d 
rey netto in Spain, might well have re-established the absolute 
king at home. They fell into the alarming error of taking 
the obedience of the soldier for the consent of the cation. 
Such confidence is the ruin of thrones. It is not permitted 
to fall asleep, either in the shadow of a machined tree, nor in 
<he shadow of an army. 

Iict us return to the ship Orion. 

During the operations of the arm}' commanded by the prince 
generalissimo, a squadio.a had been cruising in the Mediter< 
ranean. We have just sfated that the Orion belonged to this 
fleet, and that accidents of the sea had brought it into port at 

The presence of a vessel of war in a port has something 
about it which attracts and engages a crowd. It is because i^ 
is great, and the crowd loves what is great. 

A ship of the line is one of the most magnificent combina- 
tions of the genius of man with the powers of nature. 

A ship of the line is composed, at the same time, of the 
heaviest and the lightest of possible matter, for it deals at one 
and the same time with three forms of substance, — solid, liquid, 
and fluid, — and it must do battle with all three. It has eleven 
claws of iron with which to seize the granite on the bottom of 
the sea, and more wings and more antennje than winged insects, 
to catch the wind in the clouds. Its breath pours out through 


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2tB hundred and twenty cannons as through enormous trumpets, 
and replies proudly to the thunder. The ocean seeks to lead 
it astray in the alarming sameness of its billows, but the vessel 
has its soul, its compass, which counsels it and always shows it 
the north. In the blackest nights, its lanterus supply the place 
of the stars. Thus, against the wind, it has its cordage and its 
canvas ; against the water, wood ; against tiie rocks, its iron, 
brass, and lead ; against the shadows, its light ; against immen 
sity, a needle. 

If one wishes to form an idea of all those gigantic pit>po; 
tions, which, taken as a whole, constitute the ship of the line, 
one has only to enter one of the six-story covered construction 
stocks, in the ports of Brest or Toulon. The vessels in proceso 
of construction are under a bell-glass there, as it were. This 
colossal beam is a yard; that great column of wood which 
stretclies out on the earth as far as the eye can reach is the 
main-mast. Taking it from its root in the stocks to its tip in 
the clouds, it is sixty fathoms long, and Its diameter at its basf» 
is three feet The English main-mast rises to a height of two 
hundred and seventeen feet above the water-line. The navy of 
our fathers employed cables, ours employs chains. The simple 
pile of chains oft a ship of a hundred guns is four feet high, 
twenty feet in breadth, and eight feet in depth. And how much 
w<K)d is required to make this ship? Three thousand cubic 
mitres. It is a floating forest. 

And moreover, let this be borne in mind, it is onl}- a question 
here of the military vessel of forty years ago, of the simple 
sailing-vessel ; steam, then in its infancy, has since added new 
miracles to that prodigy which is called a war vessel. At the 
present time, for example, the mixed vessel with a screw is a sur- 
prising machine, propelled by three thousand square metresof can- 
vas and by an engine of two thousand five hundred horse-power. 

Not to mention these new marvels, the ancient vessel of 
Christopher Columbus and of De Ruyter is one of the master- 
pieces of man. It is as inexhaustible in force as is the Infinite 
H gales ; it stores up the wind in its sails, it is precise in tlie 
immense vagueness of the billows, it floats, and it reigns. 

There comes an hour, nevertheless, when the gale breaks that 
sixty-foot yard like a straw, when the wind bends that mast 
four hundred feet tall, when that anchor, which weighs tens of 
thousands, is twisted in the jaws of the waves like a fisherman*! 
hook in the jaws of a pike, wiien those monstrous cannons uttei 
plaintive and futile roars, which the hurricane beare forth into 
the void and into night, when all that power and all that 

uigiiizea oy -v^jOOVt Iv 


majesty are engulfed in a power and majesty which are 


Every time that immense force is displayed to culminate 
in an immense feebleness it affords men fooii for thought. 
Hence in the ports curious pcoi)lc abound around these mar- 
Yellous umciiines of war and of navigation, without being able 
to explain perfectly to themselves why. 

Every day, accordingly, from morning until night, the quays, 
sluices, and tlie jetties of the port of Toulon were covered with 
a multitude of idlers and loungers, as the}' say in Paris, whose 
business consibUd in staring at the Orion, 

The Orion was :i ship that had been ailing for a long time ; 
in the course of its previous cruises tliick layers of barnacles 
had collected on its keel to such a degree as to deprive it of 
half its speed ; it had gone into the dr}* dock the year before 
this, in order to have the barnacles scraped off, then it had put 
to sea again ; but this cleaning had affected the bolts of the 
keel : in the neighborhood of the Balearic Isles the sides had 
been strained and had opened ; and, as the plating in those days 
was not of sheet iron, the vessel had sprung aleak. A violent 
equinoctial gale had come up, which had first staved in a gloat- 
ing and a porthole on the larboard side, and damilged the fore top- 
gallant-shrouds ; in consequence of these injuries, the Orion 
had run back to Toulon. 

It anchored near the Arsenal ; it was fully equipped, and re- 
pairs were begun. The hull had received no damage on the 
starboard, but some of the planks had been unnailed here and 
there, according to custom, to permit of air entering the hold. 

One morning the crowd which was gazing at it witnessed 
an accident. 

The crew was busy bending the sails ; the topman, who had 
tt> take the upper corner of the main-top-sail on the starboard, 
lost his balance ; he was seen to waver ; the multitude throng- 
ing the Arsenal quay uttered a cry ; the man's head overbal- 
anced his body ; the man fell around the yard, with his hands 
outstretched towards the abyss ; on his way he seized the foot- 
rope, first with one hand, then with the other, and remained 
hanging from it : the sea lay below him at a dizzy depth ; the 
shock of his fall had imparted to the foot-rope a violent swing- 
ing motion ; the man swayed back and forth at the end of that 
rope, like a stone in a sling. 

It was incurring a frightful risk to go to his assistance ; not 
one of the sailors, all fishermen of the coast, recently levied fof 
the service, dared to attempt it. In the meantime, the unfortu- 


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nate topman was losing his strength ; his anguish oould not he 
discerned on his face, hut his exhaustion was visible in every 
limb ; his aims were contracted in horrible twitchiugs ; every 
effort which he made to re-ascend served but to augment the 
oscillations of the foot-rope ; he did not shout, for fear of ex- 
hausting his strength. All were awaiting the minute when he 
should release his hold on tlie rope, and, from instant to instant, 
beads were turned aside that his fall might not be seen. 
There are moments when a bit of rope, a pole, the branch of a 
tree, is life itself, and it is a terrible thing to see a living being 
detach himself from it and fall like a ripe fruit. 

AU at once, a man was seen climbing into the rigging with 
the agility of a tiger-cat ; this man was dressed in red ; he was 
% coQTict ; he wore a green cap ; he was a life convict. On 
arriving on a level with the top, a gust of wind carried away his 
cap, and allowed a perfectly white head to be seen : he was not 
a 3'oung man. 

A convict employed on board with a detachment from the 
galleys had, in fact, at the very first instant, hastened to the 
officer of the watch, and, in the midst of the consternation and 
the hesitation of the crew, while all the sailors were trembling 
and drawing back, he had asked the officer's permission to risk 
his life to save the topman ; at an affirmative sign from the 
officer he had broken the chain riveted to his ankle with one 
blow of a hammer, then he had caught up a rope, and had 
dashed into the rigging : no one noticed, at the instant, with 
what ease that chain had been broken ; it was only later on that 
the incident was recalled. 

In a twinkling he was on the yard; he paused for a few 
seconds and appeared to be measuring it with his eye ; these 
seconds, during which the breeze swayed the topman at the 
extremity of a thread, seemed centuries to those who were 
looking on. At last, the convict raised his eyes to heaven and 
advanced a step : the crowd drew a long breath. He was seen 
to run out along the yard : on arriving at the point, he fastened 
the rope which he had brought to it, and allowed tlie other end 
to hang down, then he began to descend the rope, hand over 
hand, and then, — and the anguish was indescribable, — instead 
of one man suspended over the gulf, there* were two. 

One would have said it was a spider coming to seize a fly, 
only here the spider brought life, not death. Ten thousand 
glances were fastened on this group ; not a cry, not a word ; 
the same tremor contracted «very brow ; all mouths held theii 


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breath, as though they feared to add the slightest paff to the 
wind which was swaying the two unfortunate men. 

In the meantime, the convict had succeeded in lowering him- 
self to a position near the sailor. It was high time ; one minute 
more, and the exhausted and despairing man would have allowed 
himself to fall into the abyss. The convict had moored him 
securely with the cord to which he clung with one hand, while 
he was working with the other. At last, he was seen to climb 
back on the yard, and to drag the sailor up after him ; he held 
him tliere a moment to allow him to recover his strength, then 
he grasped him in his arms and carried him, walking on the 
yard himself to the cap, and from there to the main-top, where 
he left him in the hands of his comrades. 

At that moment the crowd broke into applause : old convict- 
sergeants among them wept, and women embraced each other 
on the quay, and all voiced were heard to cry with a sort of 
tender rage, " Pardon for tliat man ! " 

He, in the meantime, had immediately begun to make his 
descent to rejoin his detachment. In order to reach them the 
more speedily, he dropped into the rigging, and ran along one 
of the lower yards ; all eyes were following him. At a certain 
moment fear assailed them; whether it was that he was fa- 
tigued, or that his head turned, they thought they saw him hes- 
itate and stagger. All at once the crowd uttered a loud shout : 
the convict had fallen into the sea. 

The fall was perilous. The frigate Algésiras was anchored 
alongside the Orion^ and the poor convict had fallen between 
the two vessels : it was to be feared that he would slip under 
one or the other of them. Four men flung themselves hastily 
into a boat ; the crowd cheered them on ; anxiety again took 
possession of all souls ; the man had not risen to the surface ; 
he had disappeared in the sea without leaving a ripple, as 
though he had fallen into a cask of oil : they sounded, they 
dived. In vain. The search was continned until the evening: 
they did not even find the body. 

On the following day the Toulon newspaper printed these 
tines : — 

"Nov. 17, 1823. Yesterda}', a convict belonging to the 
detachment on board of the Orion^ on his return from render- 
ing assistance to a sailor, fell into the sea and was drowned. 
The body has not yet been found ; it is supposed that it is en- 
tangled among the piles of the Arsenal point: this man was 
committed under the number 9,430, and his name was Jeai 


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I. — Th£ Water Question at Montfermeil. 

MoKTFERifEiL is situated between Livry and Chelles, on the 
Bouthern edge of that lof tj' table-land which separates the Ourcq 
from the Marne. At the present day it is a tolerably large 
town, ornamented all the year through with plaster villas, a;id 
on Sundays with beaming bourgeois. In 1823 there were at 
Montfermeil neither so many white houses nor so many well- 
satisfied citizens : it was only a village in the forest. Some 
pleasure-houses of the last century were to be met with there, 
to be sure, which were recognizable by their grand air, their 
balconies in twisted iron, and their long windows, whose tiny 
panes cast all sorts of varying shades of green on the white of 
the closed shuttei's ; but Montfermeil was none the less a village. 
Retired cloth-merchants aud rusticating attorneys had not dis- 
covered it as yet ; it was a peaceful and charming place, which 
was not on the road to anywhere : there people lived, and 
cheaply, that peasant rustic life which is so bounteous and so 
easy ; only, water was rare there, on account of the elevation of 
the plateau. 

It was necessary to fetch it from a considerable distance ; the 
end of the village towards Gagny drew its water from the 
magnificent ponds which exist in the woods there. The other 
end, which surrounds the church and which lies in the direction 
of Chelles, found drinking-water only at a little spring half- 
way down the slope, near the road to Chelles, about a quarter 
-A an hour from Montfermeil. 

Thus each household found it hard work to keep supplied 
with water. The large houses, the aristocracy, of which the 
Thénardier tavern formed a part, paid half a farthing a bucket- 
ful to a man who made a business of it, and who earned about 
eight sous a day in his enterprise of supplying Montfermeil 
with water ; but this good man only worked until seven o'clock in 
the evening in summer, and five in winter ; and night once come 
and the shutters on the ground floor once closed, he who had no 
water to drink went to fetch it for himself or did without it. 

This constituted the terror of the poor creature whom the 
reader has probably not forgotten, — little Cosette. It will be re< 


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membered that Cosette was useful to the Théuardiers in twc 
ways : they made the mother pay them, aud they made the child 
serve them. So when the mother ceased to pay altogether, tlic 
reason for which we have read in preceding chapters, the Thé- 
nardiers kept Cosette. She took the place of a servant in their 
house. In this capacity she it was who ran to fetch water when 
it was required. So the child, who was greatly terrified at the 
idea of going to the spring at night, took great care that water 
•hould never be lacking in the house. 

Christmas of the year 1823 was particularly^ brilliant at Mont- 
fermeil. The beginning of the winter had been mild ; there had 
been neither snow nor frost up to that time. Some mounte- 
banks from Paris had obtained permission of the mayor to erect 
their booths in the principal street of the village, and a band of 
itinerant merchants, under protection of the same tolerance, 
had constructed their stalls on the Church Square, and even 
extended them into Boulanger Alley, where, as the reader will 
perhaps remember, the Thénardiers' hostelry was situated. 
These people filled the inns and drinking-shops, and communi- 
cated to that tranquil little district a noisy and joyous life. In 
order to play the part of a faithful historian, we ought even to 
add that, among the curiosities displayed in the square, there 
was a menagerie, in which frightful clowns, clad in rags and 
coming no one knew whence, exhibited to the peasants of Mont- 
fermeil in 1823 one of those horrible Brazilian vultures, such as 
our Royal Museum did not possess until 1845, and which have 
a tricolored cockade for an eye. I believe that naturalists call this 
bird Caracara Polyborus ; it belongs to the order of the Apici- 
des, and to the family of the vultures. Some good old Bona- 
partist soldiers, who had retired to the village, went to see this 
creature with great devotion. The mountebanks gave out that 
the tricolored cockade was a unique phenomenon made by God 
8xi)res8ly for their menagerie. 

On Christmas eve itself, a number of men, carters and 
pedlers, were seated at table, drinking and smoking ai'ound 
four or five candles in the public room of Thénardier's hostelry. 
This room resembled all drinkiug-shop I'ooms, — tables, pewter 
jugs, bottles, drinkers, smokers ; but little light and a great deal 
of noise. The date of the year 1823 was indicated, neverthe- 
less, by two objects which were then fashionable in the bour- 
geois class : to wit, a kaleidoscope and a lamp of ribbed tin. 
The female Thénardier was attending to the supper, which was 
roasting in front of a clear fire ; her husband was drinking witb 
his customers and talking politics. 


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Besides political conversations which had for their principal 
subjects the Spanish war and M. le Due d'Angouleine, strictly 
local parentheses, like the following, were audible amid the up- 
roar : — 

" About Nan terre and Suresnes the vines have flourished 
greatly. When ten pieces were reckoned on there have been 
twelve. They have yielded a great deal of juice under the 
press." *'l}ut the grapes cannot be ripe?" ''In those parts 
the grapes should not be ripe ; the wine turns oily as soon as 
spring comes." ''Then it is very thin wine?" "There are 
wines poorer even than these. The grapes must be gathered 
while green." Etc. 

Or a miller would call out : — 

"Are we responsible for what is in the sacks? We find in 
them a quantity of small seed which we cannot sift out, and 
which we are obliged to send through the mill-stones; there 
are tares, fennel, vetches, hempseed, fox-tail, and a host of 
other weeds, not to mention pebbles, which abound in certain 
wheat, especially in Breton wheat. I am not fond of grinding 
Breton wheat, any more than long-sawyers like to saw beams 
with nails in them. You can judge of the bad dust that makes 
in grinding. And then people complain of the flour. They are 
in the wrong. The flour is no fault of ours." 

In a space between two windows a mower, who was seated at 
table with a landed proprietor who was fixing on a price for 
some meadow work to be performed in the spring, was saying : — 

" It does no harm to have the grass wet. It cuts better. 
Dew is a good thing, sir. It makes no difference with that 
grass. Your grass is young and very hard to cut still. It's 
terriblj' tender. It yields before the iron." Etc. 

Cosette was in her usual place, seated on the croHS-})ar of the 
kitchen table near the chimney. She was in rags ; her bare feet 
were thrust into wooden shoes, and by the firelight she was en- 
gaged in knitting woollen stockings destined for the young 
Thénardîers. A very young kitten was playing about among 
the chairs. Laughter and chatter were audible in the adjoining 
room, from two fresh children's voices : it was Éponine and 

In the chimney-comer a cat-o'-nine-tails was hanging on a nail. 

At intervals the cry of a very young child, which was some- 
where in the house, rang through the noise of the dram-shop. 
It was a little boj* who had been born to the Thenardiers during 
one of the preceding winters, — '" she did not know why, "she 
Baid, *' the result of the cold," — and who was a little more than 


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three years old. The mother had nursed him, but she did not 
love him. When the persistent clamor of the brat became too 
annoying, "Your son is squalling/' Tliénardier would say ; "do 
go and sec what he wants." '* liah ! " the mother would reply, 
" he bothers me." And the neglected child continued to shriek 
in the dark. 

II. — Two Complete Portraits. 

So far in this book the Thénardiers have been viewed only in 
profile ; the moment has arrived for making the circuit of this 
couple, and considering it under all its aspects. 

Thénardier had just passed his fiftieth birthday ; Madame 
Thénardier was approaching her forties, which is equivalent to 
fifty in a woman ; so that there existed a balance of age between 
husband and wife. 

Our readers have possibly preserved some recollection of 
this Thénardier woman, ever since her first appearance, — tall, 
blond, red, fat, angular, square, enormous, and agile ; she be- 
longed, as we have said, to the race of those colossal wild 
women, who contort themselves at fairs with paving-stones 
hanging from their hair. She did everything about the house, — 
made the beds, did the washing, the cooking, and everything 
else. Cosette was her only servant ; a mouse in the service of 
an elephant. P^verything trembled at the sound of her voice, 
— window panes, furniture, and people. Her big face, dotted 
with red blotches, presented the appearance of a skimmer. She 
had a beaiti. She was an ideal market-porter dressed in 
woman's clothes. She swore splendidly ; she boasted of being 
able to crack a nut with one blow of her fist. Except for the 
romances which she hud read, and which made the affected lady 
peep through the ogress at times, in a very queer way, the idea 
would never have occurred to any one to say of her, "That 
is a woman." This Thénardier female was like the product of 
a wench engrafted on a fishwife. When one heard her speak, 
one said, '' That is a gendarme" ; when one saw her drink, one 
said, "That is a carter"; when one saw her handle Cosette , 
one said, " That is the hangman." One of her teeth projected 
when her face was in repose. 

Thénardier was a small, thin, pale, angular, bony, ffeeble 
man, who had a sickly air and who was wonderfully healthy. His 
cunning began here ; he smiled habitually, by waj' of precaO' 
tion, and was almost polite to everybody, even to the beggar to 
whom he refused half a farthing. He had the glance of a pole- 


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£at and the bearing of a man of letters. He greatly resembled 
the portraits of the Abbé Delille. His coquetry consisted in 
drinking with the carters. No one had ever succeeded in ren- 
dering him drunk. He smoked a big pipe. He wore a blouse, 
and under his blouse an old black coat. He made pretensions 
to literature and to materialism. There were certain names which 
he often pronounced to support whatever things he might be say- 
ing, — Voltaire, Raynal, Parny, and, singularly enough, Saint 
Augustine. He declared that he had " a system." In addition, 
he was a great swindler. A JUousophe [philosophe] , a scientific 
thief. The species does exist. It will be remembered that he 
pretended to have served in the army ; he was in the habit of 
relating with exuberance, how, being a sergeant in the 6th or 
the 9th light something or other, at Waterloo, he had alone, and 
in the presence of a squadron of death-dealing hussars, covered 
with his body and saved from death, in the midst of the grape- 
shot, " a general, who had been dangerously wounded." Thence 
arose for his wall the flaring sign, and for his inn the name 
which it bore in the neighborhood, of '' the cabaret of the 
Sergeant of Waterloo." He was a liberal, a classic, and a 
Bonapartist. He had subscribed for the Champ d'Asile. It 
was said in the village that he had studied for the priesthood. 

We believe that he had simply studied in Holland for an inn- 
keeper. This rascal of composite order was, in all probability, 
some Fleming from Lille, in Flanders, a Frenchman in Paris, a 
Belgian at Brussels, being comfortably astride of both fron- 
tiers. As for his prowess at Waterloo, the reader is already 
acquainted with that. It will be perceived that he exaggerated 
it a trifle. Ebb and flow, wandering, adventure, was the leven 
of his existence; a tattered conscience entails a fragmentary 
life, and, apparently at the stormy epoch of June 18, 1815, 
Thénardier belonged to that variety of marauding sutlers of 
which we have spoken, beating about the country, selling to 
some, stealing from others, and travelling like a family man, 
with wife and children, in a rickety cart, in the rear of troops 
on the march, with an instinct for always attaching himself to 
the victorious army. This campaign ended, and having, as he 
said, *'some quibus," he had come to Montfermeil and set up 
an inn there. 

This quibus^ composed of purses and watches, of gold rings 
and silver crosses, gathered in harvest- time in furrows sown 
with corpses, did not amount to a large total, and did not carry 
this sutler turned eating-house-keeper very far. 

Thénardier had that peculiar rectilinear something about his 

uignizeu uy vjOOvt Iv^ 


gestures which, accompanied by an oath, recalls the barracks, 
and by a sign of the cross, the seminary. He was a tine talker. 
He allowed it to be thought that he was an educated man. 
Nevertheless^ the schoolmaster had noticed that he pronounced 

He composed the travellers' tariff card in a superior manner, 
but practised eyes sometimes spied out orthographical errors in 
it. Thénardier was cunniug, greedy, slothful, and clever. He 
did not disdain his servants, which caused his wife to dis])euse 
with them. This giantess was jealous. It seemed to her that 
that thin and yellow little man must be an object coveted by all. 

Thénardier, who was, above all, an astute and well-balanced 
man, was a scamp of a temperate sort. This is the worst 
species ; hypocrisy enters into it. 

It is not that Thénardier was not, on occasion, capable of 
wrath to quite the • same degree as his wife ; but this was very 
rare, and at such times, since he was enraged with the human 
race in general, as he bore within him a deep furnace of 
hatred. And since he was one of those people who are contin- 
ually avenging their wrongs, who accuse everything that passes 
before them of everything which has befallen them, and who are 
alwa} s ready to cast upon the first person who comes to hand, 
as a legitimate grievance, the sum total of the deceptions, the 
bankruptcies, and the calamities of their lives, — when all this 
leaven was stirred up in him and boiled forth from his mouth 
and eyes, he was terrible. Woe to the person who came under 
his wrath at such a time ! 

In addition to his other qualities, Thénardier was attentive 
and penetrating, silent or talkative, according to circumstances, 
and always highly intelligent. He had something of the look 
of sailors, who are accustomed to screw up their eyes to gaze 
through marine glasses. Thénardier was a statesman. 

Every new-comer who entered the tavern said, on catching 
sight of Madame Thénardier, '* There is the master of the 
house." A mistake. She was not even the mistress. The 
husband was both master and mistress. She worked ; he 
created. He directed everything by a sort of invisible and 
constant magnetic action. A word was sufHeient for him, 
sometimes a sign ; the mastodon obeyed. Thénardier was a 
sort of special and sovereign being in Madame Thénardîer's 
eyes, though she did not thoroughly realize it. She was pos- 

1 Literally " made cuire *' ; te., pronouDced a < or an i at the end of words 
whore the opposite letter should occur, or used either one of them whert 
neither exists. 


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sessed of virtues after her own kiud ; if she had ever had a 
/lisagreemeiit as to any detail with '^ Monsieur Tliénardier," — 
which was an inadmissible hypothesis, by the way, — she would 
not have blameil her husband in public on any subject what- 
ever. She would never have committed '^ before strangers " 
that mistake so often committed by women, and which is called 
in parliamentary language, "exposing the crown." Although 
their concord had only evil as its result, there was contempla- 
tion in Madams Thénardicr's submission to lier husband. That 
mountain of noise and of flesh moved under the little finger of 
that frail despot. Viewed on its dwarfed and grotesque side, 
this was that grand and universal thing, the adoration of mind 
by matter ; for certain ugly features have a cause in the very 
depths of eternal beauty. There was an unknown quantity 
aliout Thénardier ; hence the absolute empire of the man over 
that woman. At certain moments she beheld him like a lighted 
candle ; at others she felt him like a claw. 

This woman was a formidable creature who loved no one 
except her children, and who did not fear any one except her 
husband. She was a mother because she was mammiferous. 
Bat her maternity stopped short with her daughters, and, as 
we shall see, did not extend to boys. The man had but one 
thought, — how to enrich himself. 

He did not succeed in this. A theatre woith}' of this great 
talent was lacking. Thénardier was ruining himself at Mont- 
fermeil, if ruin is possible to zero; in Switzerland or in the 
Pyrenees tliis penniless scamp would have become a millionnaire ; 
but an inn-keeper must browse where fate has hitched him. 

It will be understood that the word inn-keeper is here em- 
ployed in a restricted sense, and does not extend to an en tira 

In this same year, 1823, Thénardier was burdened with about 
fifteen hundred francs' worth of petty debts, and this rendered 
him anxious. 

Whatever may have been the obstinate injustice of destiny in 
this case, Thénardier was one of those men who undersUmd 
best, with the most profundity and in the most modern fashion, 
that thing which is a virtue among barbarous peoples and an 
object of merchandise among civilized peoples, — hospitality. 
Besides, he was an admirable poacher, and quoted for his skill 
in shooting. He had a certain cold and tranquil laugh, which 
was particularly dangerous. 

His theories as a landlord sometimes burst forth in lightning 
flashes. He bad professional aphorisms, which he inserted into 


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his wife's mind. .'^ The duty of the inn-keeper/' he said to hei 
one day, violently, and in a low voice, " is to sell to the first* 
comer, stews, repose, light, fire, dirty sheets, a servant, lice, 
and a smile ; to stop passers-bj', to empty small purses, and to 
honestly lighten heavy ones ; to shelter travelling families re- 
spectfully : to shave the man, to pluck the woman, to pick the 
child clean ; to quote the window open, the window shut, the 
chimney-corner, the arm-chair, the chair, the ottoman, the stool, 
the feather-bed, the mattress and the trass of straw ; to know 
bow much the shadow uses up the mirror, and to put a price on 
it ; and, by five hundred thousand devils, to make the traveller 
pay for everything, even for the flies which his dog eats ! " 

This man and this woman were ruse and rage wedded — a 
hideous and terrible team. 

While the husband pondered and combined, Madame Thénar- 
dier thought not of absent creditors, took no heed of yesterday 
nor of to-morrov<r, and lived in a fit of anger, all in i^ minute. 

Such were these two beings. Cosette was between them, 
subjected to their double pressure, like a creature who is at 
the same time being ground up in a mill and pulled to pieces 
with pincers. The man and the woman each had a different 
method: Cosette was overwhelmed with blows — this was the 
woman's ; she went barefooted in winter — that was the man's 

Cosette ran up stairs and down, washed, swept, rubbed, 
dusted,. ran, fluttered about, panted, moved heavy aiticles, and 
weak as she was, did the coarse work. There was no mercy 
for her ; a fierce mistress and venomous master. The Thenar- 
dier hostelry was like a spider's web, in which Cosette had been 
caught, and where she lay trembling. The ideal of oppression 
was realized by this sinister household. It was something like 
the fly serving the spiders. 

The poor child passively held her peace. 

What takes place within these souls when they have but just 
quitted God, find themselves thus, at the very dawn of life, very 
small and in the midst of men all naked ! 

Ill, — Men must have Wine, and Horses must HAVk Water. 

Four new travellers had arrived. 

Cosette was meditating sadly ; for, although she was only 
eight years old, she had already suffered so much, that she 
reflected with the lugubrious air of an old woman. Her ejo 


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«ras black in consequence of a blow from Madame Thenar* 
dier's fist, which caused the latter to rematk from time to time, 
" How ugl3' she is with her fist-blow on her eye ! " 

Cosette was thinking that it was dark, very dark, that the 
pitchers and caraffes in the chambera of the travellers who had 
arrived must have been filled and that there was no more watei 
in the cistern. 

She was somewhat reassured because no one in the Thé- 
nardier establishment drank much water. Thirsty people were 
never lacking there ; but their thirst was of the sort wliich 
applies to the jug rather than to the pitcher. Any one who liad 
asked for a glass of water among all those glasses of wine 
would have appeared a savage to all these men. But there 
came a moment when the child trembled ; Madame Thénardier 
raised the cover of a stew-pan which was boiling on the stove, 
then seized a glass and briskly approached the cistern. She 
turned the faucet ; the child had raised her head and was fol- 
lowing all the woman's movements. A thin stream of water 
trickled from the faucet, and half filled the glass. "Well," 
said she, '^ there is no more water!" A momentary silence 
ensued. The child did not breathe. 

" Bah ! " resumed Madame Thénardier, examining the half- 
filled glass, " this will be enough." 

Ck>sette applied herself to her work once more, but for a 
quarter of an hour she felt her heart leaping in her bosom like 
a big snow-flake. 

She counted the minutes that passed in this manner, and 
wished it were the next morning. 

From time to time one of the drinkers looked into the street, 
and exclaimed, "It's as black as an oven ! " or, " One must 
needs be a cat to go about the streets without a lantern at this 
hour ! " And Cosette trembled. 

AU at once one of the pedlers who lodged in the. hostelry 
entered, and said in a harsh voice : — 

" My horse has not been watered." 

** Yes, it has," said Madame Thénardier. 

** I tell you that it has not," retorted the pedler. 

Cosette had emerged from under the table. 

^^Oh, yes, sir!" said she, "the horse has had a dnnk; he 
drank out of a bucket, a whole bucketful, and it was I who 
sook the water to him, and I spoke to him." 

It was not true ; Cosette lied. 

" Tîiere's a brat as big as my fist who tells lies as big as the 
bouse," exclaimed the pedler. " I tell you that he has not 


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been watered, you little jade ! He has a way of blowing whet 
he has had no water,*which I know well." 

Cosette persisted, and added in a voice rendered hoarse with 
anguish, and which was haixily audible : — 

" And he even drank heartily." 

•'Come," said the pedler, in a rage, "this won't do at all, 
let my horse be watered, and let that be the end of it I " 

Cosette cropt under the table again. 

'' In truth, that is fair ! " said Madame Thénardier, '' if the 
<)east has not been watered, it must be." 

Then glancing about her : — 

'* Well, now ! Where's that other beast? " 

She bent down and discovered Cosette cowering at the other 
end of the table, almost under the drinkers* feet. 

** Are you coming?" shrieked Madame Thénardier. 

Cosette crawled out of the sort of hole in which she had hid- 
den herself. The Thénardier resumed : — 

" Mademoiselle Dog-lack-name, go and water that horse." 

*' But, Madame," said Cosette, feebly, *' there is no water." 

The Thénardier threw the street door wide open : — 

'* Well, go and get some, then ! " 

Cosette dropped her head, and went for an empty bucket 
which stood near the chimney-corner. 

This bucket was bigger than she was, and the child could 
have set down in it at her ease. 

The Thénardier returned to her stove, and tasted what waa 
in the stewpan, with a wooden spoon, grumbling the while: — 

''There's plenty in the spring. There never was such a 
malicious creature as that. I think I should have done better 
to strain my onions." 

Then she rummaged in a drawer which contained sous, pepper, 
and shallots. 

" Seebere, Mam'selle Toad," she added, " on your way back, 
you will get a big loaf from the baker. Here's a fifteen-sox] 

Cosette had a little pocket on one side of her apron ; she 
took the coin without saying a word, and put it in that pocket. 

Then she stood motionless, bucket in hand, the open door 
before her. She seemed to be waiting for some one to come 
to her rescue. 

" Get along with you ! " screamed the Thénardier. 

Cosette went out. The door closed behind her. 


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IV. — Entrance on the Scene op a Doll. 

The line of open-air booths starting at the church, extended, 
as the reader will remember, as far as the hostelry of the Thé* 
nardiers. These booths were all illuminated, because the 
citizens would soon pass on their way to the midnight mass, 
with candles burning in paper funnels, which, as the school* 
master, then seated at the table at the Thénardiers' observed, 
produced ^^ a magical effect." In compensation, not a star wa4 
visible in the sky. 

The last of these stalls, established precisely opposite the 
Thénardiers' door, was a toy-shop all glittering with tinsel, 
glass, and magnificent objects of tin. In the first row, and far 
forwards, the merchant had placed on a background of white 
napkins, an immense doll, nearl}' two feet high, who was dressed 
in a robe of pink crepe, with gold wheat-ears on her head, 
which had real hair and enamel eyes. All that day, this mar* 
vel had been displayed to the wonderment of all passers-by 
under ten years of age, without a mother being found in Mont- 
fermeil sufficiently rich or suflîciently extravagant to give it to 
her child. Éponine and Azelma had passed hours in contemplât- 
ing it, and Cosette herself had ventured to cast a glance at it, 
on the sly, it is true. 

At the moment when Cosette emerged, bucket in hand, 
melancholy and overcome as she was, she could not refrain 
from lifting her eyes to that wonderful doll, towards the lady^ 
as she called it. The poor child paused in amazement. She 
had not 3et beheld that doll close to. The whole shop seemed 
a palace to her : the doll was not a doll ; it was a vision. It was 
joy, splendor, riches, happiness, which appeared in a sort of 
chimerical halo to that unhappy little being so profoundly en- 
gulfed in gloomy and chilU' miser}'. With the sad and innocent 
sagacity of childhood, Cosette measured the abyss which sepa- 
rated her from that doll. She said to herself that one must be 
a queen, or at least a princess, to have a " thing" like that. She 
gazed at that beautiful pink dress, that beautiful smooth hair, 
and she thought, " How happy that doll must be ! " She could 
not take her eyes from that fantastic stall. The more she 
looked, the more dazzled she grew. She thought she was gaz- 
ing at paradise. There were other dolls behind the large one, 
which seemed to her to fairies and genii. The merchant, who 
was pacing back and forth in front of his shop, produced on hei 
■omewhat the effect of being the Eternal Father. 


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In this adoration she foi^ot everything, even the errand wiU 
«rhich she was charged. 

All at once the Thénardier's coarse voice recalled her to 
reality: "What, you silly jade! you have not gone? Wait I 
I'll give it to you ! I want to know what you are doing there I 
Get along, you little monster ! " 

The Thénardier had cast a glance into the street, and had 
•:a(i<]:ht sight of Cosette in her ecstasy. 

Oosette fled, dragging her pail, and taking the longest strides 
ot which she was capable. 

V. — The Lfttlr One All Alone. 

As the Thénardier hostelry was in that part of the village 
which is near the church, it was to the spring in the forest in 
the direction of Chelles that Cosette was obliged to go for her 

She did not glance at the display of a single other merchant. 
So long as she was in Boulanger Lane and in the neighborhood 
of the church, the lighted stalls illuminated the roml ; but soon 
tlie last light from the last stall vanished. The poor child 
found herself in the dark. She plunged into it. Only, as a 
certain emotion overcame her, she made as much motion as 
possible with the handle of the* bucket as she walked along. 
This made a noise which afforded her company. 

The further she went, the denser the darkness became. 
There was no one in the streets. However, she did encounter 
a woman, who turned around on seeing her, and stood still, mut- 
tering between her teeth : ** Where can that child be going? I& 
it a werewolf child ? " Then the woman recognized Cosette* 
" Well," said she, " it's the Lark ! " 

In this manner Cosette traversed the labyrinth of tortaons 
and deserted streets which terminate in tlie village of Montfer- 
meil on the side of Chelles. So long as she had the houses oi 
even the walls only on both sides of her path, she prooeede<î 
with tolerable boldness. From time to time she oanght the 
flicker of a candle through the crack of a shutter — this was 
light and life ; there were people there, and it reassured her. 
But in proportion as she advanced, her pace slackened mechan- 
ically, as it were. When she had passed the corner of the laî^t 
house, Cosette paused. It had been hard to advance further 
than the last stall ; it became impossible to proceed further 
than the last house. vShc set her bucket on the ground, thrust 
her hand into her hair, and began slowly to scratc^h lier heady - * 


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a gesture peculiar to children when terrified and undecided what 
to do. It was no longer Montfermeil ; it was the open fields. 
Black and desert space was before her. She gazed in despaif 
at that darkness, where there was no longer an}* one, where 
there were beasts, where there were spectres, possibly. She 
took a good look, and heard the beasts walking on the grass, 
and she distinctly saw spectres moving in the trees. Then she 
seized her bucket again ; fear had lent her audacity. " Bah ! " 
said she; '^ I will tell him that there was no more water I' 
And she resolutely re-entered Montfermeil. 

Hardly had she gone a hundred paces when she paused and 
began to scratch her head again. Now it was the Thénardier 
who appeared to her, with her hideous, hyena mouth, and 
wrath flashing in her eyes. The child cast a melancholy glance 
before her and beliind her. What was she to do ? What was 
to become of her ? Where was she to go ? In front of her was 
the spectre of the Tliénardier ; behind her all the phantoms of 
the night and of the forest. It was before the Thénardier that 
she recoiled. She resumed her path to the spring, and began 
to run. She emerged from the village, she entered the forest at 
a run, no longer looking at or listening to anything. She only 
paused in her course when her breath failed her ; but she did not 
halt in her advance. She went straight before her in desperation. 

As she ran she felt like crying. 

The nocturnal quivering of the forest surrounded her com« 

She no longer thought, she no longer saw. The immensity 
of night was facing this tiny creature. On the one hand, all 
shadow ; on the other, an atom. 

It was only seven or eight minutes' walk «f rom the edge of 
the woods to the spring. Cosette knew the way, through having 
gone over it many times in daylight. Strange to say, she did 
not get lost. A remnant of instinct guided her vaguely. But 
she did not turn her eyes either to right or to left, for fear of 
seeing things in the branches and in the brushwood. In this 
manner she reached the spring. 

It was a narrow, natural basin, hollowed out by the water in 
a clayey soil, about two feet deep, surrounded with moss and 
with those tall, crimped grasses which are called Henry IV. 's 
frills, and paved with several large stones. A brook ran out 
<^f it, with a tranquil little noise. 

Oosette did not take time to breathe. It was very dark, but 
■^e was in the habit of coming to this spring. She felt with hcl 
left hand in the dark for a young oak which leaned over th« 


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spring, and which usually served to support her, found one ol 
Its branches, clung to it, bent down, and plunged tlie bucket vo 
the water. She was in a state of such violent excitement that 
her strength was trebled. While thus bent over, she did not 
notice that the pocket of her ai)ron had emptied itself into the 
spring. The fifteen-sou piece fell into the water. Cosette 
neither saw nor heard it fall. She drew out the bucket nearly 
«hll, and set it on the grass. 

That done, she perceived that she was worn out with fatigue. 
She would have liked to set out again at once, but the effort 
rt^quired to fill the bucket had been such that she found it 
fi\iiK)ssible to take a step. She was forced to sit down. She 
dropped on the grass, and remained crouching there. 

She shut her eyes; then she opened them again, without 
knowing why, but because she could not do otherwise. The 
agitated water in the bucket beside her was describing circles 
which resembled tin serpents. 

Overhead the sky was covered with vast black clouds, which 
were like masses of smoke. The tragic mask of shadow seemed 
to bend vaguely over the child. 

Jupiter was setting in the depths. 

The child stared with bewildered eyes at this great star, with 
which she was unfamiliar, and which terrified her. The planet 
was, in fact, very near the horizon and was traversing a dense 
layer of mist which imparted to it a hoiTible ruddy hue. The 
mist, gloomily empurpled, magnified the star. One would have 
called it a luminous wound. 

A cold wind was blowing from the plain. The forest was 
dark, not a leaf was moving ; there were none of the vague, 
fresh gleams of sutnmertide. Great boughs uplifted themselves 
in friglitful wise. Slender and misshapen bushes whistled in 
lihe clearings. The tall grasses undulated like eels under the 
lorth wind. The nettles seemed to twist long arms furnished 
^itli claws in search of prey. Some bits of dry heather, tossed 
by the breeze, flew rapidly by, and had the air of fleeing in 
icrror before something wliich was coming after. On all sides 
there were lugubrious stretches. 

The darkness was bewildering. Man requires light. Who- 
ever buries himself in the opposite of day feels his heart con- 
tract. When the eye sees black, the heart sees trouble. In an 
eclipse in the night, in the sooty opacity, there is anxiety even 
for the stoutest of hearts. No one walks alone in the forest at 
night without treinblins:. Shadows and trees — two formidable 
densities. A chimerical reality appears in the indistinct depths. 


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rhe inconceivable is outlined a few paces distant from you with 
a spectral clearuess. One beholds floating, either in space or 
in one's own brain, one knows not what vague and intangible 
thing, like the dreams of sleeping flowers. There are fierce 
attitudes on the horizon. One inhales the effluvia of the great 
black void. One is afraid to glance behind him, yet desirous of 
doing so. The cavities of night, things grown haggard, taciturn 
profiles which vanish when one advances, obscure dishevel- 
ments, irritated tufts, livid pools, the lugubrious reflected in the 
funereal, the sepulchral immensity of silence, unknown but pos 
sible beings, bendings of mysterious branches, alarming torsos 
of trees, long handfuls of quivering plants, — against all this 
one has no protection. There is no hardihood which does not 
shudder and which does not feel the vicinity of anguish. One 
is conscious of something hideous, as though one's soul were 
becoming amalgamated with the darkness. This penetration of 
the shadows is indescribably sinister in the case of a child. 

Forests are apocalypses, and the beating of the wings of a 
tiny soul produces a sound of agony beneath their monstrous 

Without understanding her sensations, Cosette was conscious 
that she was seized upon by. that black enormity of nature ; it 
was no longer terror alone which was gaining possession of 
her; it was something more terrible even than terror; she 
shivered. There are no words to express the strangeness of 
that shiver which chilled her to the very bottom of her heart ; 
her eye grew wild ; she thought she felt that she should not be 
able to refrain from returning there at the same hour on the 

Then, by a sort of instinct, she began to count aloud, one, 
two, three, four, and so on up to ten, in order to escape from 
that singular state which she did not understand, but whicb 
cerrified her, and, when she had finished, she began again ; this 
restored her to a true perception of the things about her. Hei 
hands, which she had wet in drawing the water, felt cold ; she 
rose ; her terror, a natural and unconquerable terror, had re- 
tamed : she had but one thought now, — to flee at full speed 
through the forest, across the fields to the houses, to the win 
clows, to the lighted candles. Her glance fell upon the water 
which stood before her ; such was the fright which the Thenar- 
dier inspired in her, that she dared not flee without that bucket 
of water : she seized the handle with both hands ; she could 
hardly lift the pail. 

In this manner she advanced a dozen paces, but the bucket 


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was full ; it was heavy ; she was forced to set it on the ground 
ouce more. She took breath for nn instant, then lifted the 
handle of the bucket again, and resumed her march, proceed* 
ing a little further this time, but again she was obliged to 
pause. After some seconds of repose she set out again. She 
walked bent forward, with drooping head, like an old woman ; 
the weight of the bucket strained and stiffened her thin arms. 
The iron handle completed the benumbing and freezing of hei 
wet and tiny hands ; she was forced to halt from time to time, 
2ind each time that she did so, the cold water which splasheil 
from the pail fell on her bare legs. This took place in the deptlis 
of a forest, at night, in winter, far from all human sight ; she 
was a child of eight : no one but God saw that sad thing at the 

And her mother, no doubt, alas ! 

For there are things that make the dead open their ej es in 
their graves. 

She panted with a sort of painful rattle ; sobs contracted 
her throat, but she dared not weep, so afraid was she of the 
Thénardier, even at a distance : it was her custom to imagine 
the Thénardier always present. 

However, she could not make much headway in that manner, 
and she went on very slowly. In spite of diminishing the 
length of her stops, and of walking as long as possible between 
them, she reflected with anguish that it would take her more 
than an hour to return to Montfermeil in this manner, and that 
the Thénardier would beat her. This anguish was mingled with 
her terror at being alone in the woods at night ; she was worn 
out with fatigue, and had not yet emerged from the forest. 
On arriving near an old chestnut-tree with which she WiUj 
acquainted, made a h\st halt, longer than the rest, in order that 
she might get well rested ; then she summoned up all her 
streugth, picked up her bucket again, and courageousl}' re- 
3amed her march, but the poor little desperate creature oould 
QOt refrain from crying, " O my God ! my God ! " 

At that momeut she suddenly became conscious that her 
bucket no longer weighed anything at all : a hand, which seemed 
to her enormous, had just seized the handle, and lifted it vigor* 
ously. She raised her head. A large black form, sti*aight and 
erect, was walking beside her through the darkness ; it was a 
man who had come up l)ehind her, and whose approach she had 
not heard. This man, without uttering a word, had seized th« 
handle of the bucket which she was carrying. 

There are instincts for all the encounters of life. 

The child was not «teld. 


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Vie — Which possibly proves Boulatbuelle's Intellioenge. 

On the afternoon of that same Christmas Day, 1823, a man 
had walked for rather a long time in the most deserted part of 
the Boulevard de l'Hôpital in Paris. This man had the air of 
a person who is seeking lodgings, and he seemed to halt, by 
preference, at the most modest houses on that dilapidated 
border of the fauborg Saint-Marceau. 

We shall see further on that this man had, in fact, hired a 
chamber in that isolated quarter. 

This man, in his attire, as in all his person, realized the type 
of what may be called the well-bred mendicant, — extreme 
wretchedness combined with extreme cleanliness. This is a very 
rare mixture which inspires intelligent hearts with that double 
respect which one feels for the man who is very poor, and for 
the man who is veiy worthy. He wore a very old and very well 
brushed round hat ; a coarse coat, worn perfectly threadbare, of 
an ochre yellow, a color that was not in the least eccentric at that 
epoch ; a large waistcoat with pockets of a venerable cut ; black 
breeches, worn gray at the knee, stockings of black worsted ; 
and thick shoes with copper buckles. He would have been pro- 
nounced a preceptor in some good family, returned from the 
emigration. He would have been taken for more than sixty 
years of age, from his perfectly white hair, his wrinkled brow, 
his livid lips, and his countenance, where everything breathed 
depression and weariness of life. Judging from his firm tread, 
from the singular vigor which stamped all his movements, he 
woald have hardly been thought fifty. The wrinkles on his brow 
were well placed, and would have disposed in his favor any one 
who observed him attentively. His lip contracted with a strange 
fold which seemed severe, and which was humble. Tliere was in 
the depth of his glance an indescribable melancholy serenity. 
In his left hand he carried a little bundle tied up in a handker- 
chief ; in his right he leaned on a sort of a cudgel, cut from 
some hedge. This stick had been carefull}' trimmed, and had an 
air that was not too threatening ; the most had been made of 
its knots, and it had received a coral-iike head, made from red 
wax : it was a cudgel, and it seemed to be a cane. 

There are but few passers-by on that boulevard, particularly 
in the winter. The man seemed to avoid them rather than to 
seek them, but this without any affectation. 

At that epoch. King Louis XVIII. went nearly every day to 
Choisy-le-Boi : it was one of his favorite excursions. Toward» 


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two o'clock, almost invariably, the royal carnage and cavalcad* 
was seen to pass at full speed along the Boulevard de THôpitaL. 

This served in lieu of a watch or clock to the poor women 
of the quarter who said, *' It is two o'clock ; there he is return- 
ing to tlie Tuileries." 

And some rushed forward, and others drew up in line, for a 
passing king always creates a tumult; besides, the appearance 
and disappearance of Louis XVIII. produced a certain eflect in 
the streets of Paris. It was rapid but majestic. This impotent 
king had a taste for a fast gallop ; as he was not able to walk, 
he wished to run : that cripple would gladly have had himself 
drawn by the lightning. He passed, pacific and severe, in the 
midst of naked swords. His massive couch, all covered with 
gilding, with great branches of lilies painted on the panels, 
thundered noisily along. There was hardly time to cast a glance 
upon it. In the rear angle on the right there was visible on 
tufted cushions of white satin a large, firm, and ruddy face, a 
brow freshly powdered à V oiseau royal, a proud, hard,. crafty 
eye, the smile of an educated man, two great epaulets with bul- 
lion fringe floating over a bourgeois coat, the Golden Fleece, the 
cross of Saint Louis, the cross of the Legion of Honor, the silver 
plaque of the Saint-Esprit, a huge belly, and a wide blue ribbon : 
it was the king. Outside of Paris, he lield his hat decked with 
white ostrich plumes on his knees enwrapped in high English 
gaiters ; when he re-entered the city, he put on his hat and 
saluted rarely ; he stared coldly at the people, and they returncMl 
it in kind. When he appeared for tlie first time in the Saint- 
Marceau quarter, the whole success which he produced is con- 
tained in this remark of an inhabitant of the faubourg to his 
comrade, " That big fellow yonder is tlie government.** 

This infallible passage of the king at the same hour was, 
therefore, the daily event of the Boulevard de ITIôpital. 

The promenader in the yellow coat evidently did not lx4onp 
in the quarter, and probably did not belong in Paris, for he waç 
ignorant as to this detail. When, at two o'clock, the royal ear- 
riîige, surrounded by a squadron of the body-guard all covered 
with silver lace, deboucihed on the boulevard, after having made 
the turn of the Salpctrii'Te, he appeared surprised and almost 
alarmed. There was no one but himself in this cross-lane. He 
drew up hastily behind the corner of the wall of an enelosnre, 
though this did not prevent M. le Due de Havre from spying 
him out. 

M. le Dnc de Havre, as captain of the guard on duty that 
day, was 8oat4?d in the carriîige, opposite the king. He said u» 


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his Majesty, " Yonder is an evil-looking man." Members oi 
the ijolice, who were clearing the king's route, took equal note 
of him : one of them received an order to follow him. But the 
man plunged into the deserted little streets of the faubourg, and 
as twilight was beginning to fall, the agent lost trace of him, 
as is stated in a report addressed that same evening to M. le 
Comte d'Angles, Minister of State, Prefect of Police. 

When the man in the yellow coat had thrown the agent off 
bis track, he redoubled his pace, not without turning round 
many a time to assure himself that he was not being followed. At 
a quarter-past four, that is to say, when night was fully come, 
he passed in front of the theatre of the Porte Saiut-Martin, 
where The Two Convicts was being played that day. This 
poster, illuminated by the theatre lanterns, struck him ; for, 
although he was walking rapidly, he halted to read it. An 
instant later he was in the blind alley of La Planchette, 
and he entered the Plat d'Etain [the Pewter Platter], where 
the office of the coach for Lagny was then situated. Tlïis coach 
set out at half -past four. The horses were harnessed, and the 
iiavellers, summoned by the coachman, were hastily climbing 
the lofty iron ladder of the vehicle. 

The man inquired : — 

*'Have you a place?" 

"Only one — beside me on the box," said the coachman. 

'^ will take it." 

'' Climb up." 

Nevertheless, before setting out, the coachman cast a glance 
at the traveller's shabby dress, at the diminutive size of his 
bundle, and made him pay his fare. 

** Are you going as far as Lagny? " demanded the coachman. 

" Yes," said the man. 

The traveller paid to Lagny. 

They started. When they had passed the barrier, the coach- 
3ian tried to enter into conversation, but the traveller only re- 
plied in monosyllables. The coachman took to whistling and 
fiwearing at his horses. 

The coachman wrapped himself up in his cloak. It was cold. 
The man did not appear to be thinking of that. Thus they 
passed Gournay and Neuilly-sur-Marne. 

Towards six o'clock in the evening they reached Cholles. 
The coachman drew up in front of the carters' iuu installed in 
tlie ancient buildings of the. Royal Abbey, to give his horses a 
breathing spell. 

^^ I get down here," said the man. 


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He took his bundle and his cudgel and jumped down froni 
slie vehicle. 

An instant later he had disappeared. 

He did not enter the inn. 

When the coach set out for Lagny a few minutes later, it did 
not encounter him in the principal street of Chelles. 

The coachman turned to the inside travellers. 

" There," said he, *' is a man who does not belong here, foi 
I do not know him. He had not the air of owning a sou, but 
he docs not consider money ; he pays to Lagny, and he goes 
only as far as Chelles. It is night ; all the houses are shut; be 
does not enter the inn, and he is not to be found. So he has 
dived tlirough the earth." 

The man had not plunged into the earth, but he had gone 
with great strides through the dark, down the principal street of 
Chelles, then he had turned to the right before reaching the 
church, into the cross-road leading taMontfermeil, like a person 
who was acquainted with the country and had been there before. 

He followed this road rapidl3\ At the spot where it is in- 
tersected by the ancient tree-bordered road which runs from 
Gagny to Lagny, he heard people coming. He concealed him- 
self precipitately in a ditch, and there waited until the passers- 
by were at a distance. The precaution was nearly superfluous, 
however; for, as we have already said, it was a very dark 
December night. Not more than two or three stars were visible 
in the sky. 

It is at this point that the ascent of the hill begins. The 
man did not return to the road to Montfermeil; he struck 
across the fields to the right, and entered the forest with long 

Once in the forest he slackened his pace, and began a careful 
examination of all the trees, advancing, step by step, as though 
seeking and following a mysterious road known to himself 
alone. There came a moment when he appeared to lose him- 
self, and he paused in indecision. At last he arrived, by dint 
of feeling his way inch by inch, at a clearing where there was 
a great heap of whitish stones. He stepped up briskly to these 
stones, and examined them attentively through the mists of 
niglit, as though he were passing them in review. A large tree, 
covered with those excrescences which are the warts of vege- 
tation, stood a few paces distant from the pile of stones. He 
went up to this tree and passed his hand over the bark of the 
trunk, as thougli seek ins: to recognize and count all the warts. 

Opposite this tree, which was an ash, there was a chestnut- 


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tree, suffering from a peeling of the bark, to which a band ot 
Line had been nailed by way of dressing. He raised himseK 
on tiptoe and toached this band of zinc. 

Then he trod about for awhile on the ground comprised in 
the space between the tree and the heap of stones, like a person 
wbo is trying to assure himself that the soil has not recently 
been disturbed. 

That done, he took his bearings, and resumed his march 
through the forest. 

It was the man who had just met Cosette. 

As he walked through the thicket in the direction of Mont- 
fermeil, he had espied that tiny shadow moving with a groan, 
dei)ositing a burden on the ground, then taking it up and set- 
ting out again. He drew near, and perceived that it was a very 
young child, laden with an enormous bucket of water. Then 
he approached the child, and silently grasped the handle of the 

Vn. — Cosette Side by Side with the Stranger 
IN THE Dark. 

Cosette, as we have said, was not frightened. 

The man accosted her. He spoke in a voice that was grave 
and almost bass. 

*' My child, what you are carrying is very heavy for you." 

Cosette raised her head, and replied : — 

•' Yes, sir." 

" Give it to me," said the man ; *' I will carry it for 3'ou." 

Cosette let go of the bucket-handle. The man walked along 
beside her. 

"It really is very heavy," he muttered between his teeth 
Then he added : — 

'* How old are you, little one?" 

''Eight, sir." 

" And have you come from far like this?" 

" From the spring in the forest." 

** Are 30U going far?" 

" A good quarter of an hour's walk from here." 

The man said nothing for a moment; then he remarked 
abruptly : — 

" So you have no môtker?" 

'• I don't know," answered the child. 

Before the man had time to speak again, she added: — 


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^^ I don't think so. Other people have mothers. I have 

And after a silence she went on : — 

*' I think that I never had any." 

The man halted ; he set the bucket on the ground, bent down 
and placed both hands on the child's shoulders, making an 
effort to look at her and to see her face in the dark. 

Cosette's thin and sickly face was vaguely outlined by the 
livid light in the sky. 

'* What is your name?'* said the man. 

" Cosette." 

The man seemed to have received an electric shock. He 
looked at her once more ; then he removed his hands from Co- 
sette's shoulders, seized the bucket, and set out again. 

After a moment he inquired : — 

" Where do you live, little one? " 

'' At Montfermeil, if you know where that is." 

" That is where we are going?" 

'* Yes, sir." 

He paused ; then began again : — 

" Who sent you at such an hour to get water in the forest?" 

" It was Madame Théuardier." 

The man resumed, in a voice which he strove to render in- 
different, but in which there was, nevertheless, a singular 
tremor : — 

*' What does your Madame Thénardicr do?" 

'* She is my mistress," said the child. *' She keeps the inn." 

"The inn?" said the man. "Well, I am going to lodge 
there to-night. Show me the way." 

" We are on the way there," said the child. 

The man walked tolerably fast. Cosette followed him with- 
out difficulty. She no longer felt any fatigue. From tiiue to 
time she raised her eyes towards the man, with a sort of tran- 
quillity and an indescribable confidence. She had never been 
taught to turn to Providence and to pray ; nevertheless, she 
felt within her something which resembled hope and joy, and 
which mounted towards heaven. 

Several minutes ela])8ed. The man resumed : — 

" Is there no servant in Madame Thénardier's house?** 

" No, sir." 

" Are you alone there?" 

" Yes, sir." 

Another pause ensued. Cosette lifted up her voice : — 

"That is to say, there are two little girls." 


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"What little girls?'* 

" Poiiine and Zelma." 

This was the way the child simplified the romantic names so 
dear to the female Thénardier. 

"Who are Popine and Zelma?" 

"They are Madaaie Thénardier's young ladies; her daugh- 
ters, as you would say." 

" And what do those girls do?" 

"Oh!" said the child, "they have beautiful dolls; things 
with gold in them, all full of affairs. They play ; they amuse 

"All dav long?" 

" Yes, sir." 

"And you?" 

"I? I work." 

"All day long?" 

The child raised her great eyes, in which hung a tear, which 
was not visible because of the darkness, and replied gently : — 

" Yes, sir." 

After an interval of silence she went on : — 

" Sometimes, when I have finished my work and they let me, 
I amuse myself, too." 

" How do you amuse yourself?" 

" In the best way I can. They let me alone ; but I have not 
many playthings. Ponine and Zelma will not let nie play with 
their dolls. I have only a little lead sword, no longer than 

The child held up her tiny finger. 

"And it will not cut?" 

" Yes, sir," said the child ; " it cuts salad and the heads of 

They reached the village. Cosette guided the stranger 
through the streets. They passed the bakeshop, but Cosette 
did not think of the bread which she had been ordered to 
fetch. The man had ceased fc) ply her with questions, and now 
preser»-ed a gloomy silence. 

W\\*M\ they had left the church behind them, the man, on 
perceiving all the open-air booths, asked Cosette : — 

" So there is a fair going on here?" 

" No, sir ; it is Christmas." 

As they approached the tavern, Cosette timidly touched his 
arm: — 


'*What, my child?" 


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" Wc are quite near the house." 


" Will you let me take my bucket now?** 


"If Miidame sees that some one has carried it for me, she 
will beat rae." 

The man handed her the bucket. An instant later they were 
at the tavern door. 

VIII. — The Unpleasantness op receiving into One's 
House a Poor Man who may be a Rich Man. 

Cosette could not refrain from casting a sidelong glance at 
the big doll, which was still displayed at the toy -merchant's ; 
then she knocked. The door opened. The Théuardier ap- 
peared with a candle in her hand. 

''Ah ! so it's you, you little wretch ! good mercy, but you've 
taken your time ! The hussy has been amusing herself!" 

'' Madame," said Cosette, trembling all over, *' here is a gen- 
tleman who wants a lodging." 

The Thénardier speedily replaced her gruff air by her amiable 
grimace, a change of aspect common to tavern-keepers, and 
eagerly sought the new-comer with her eyes. 

" This is the gentleman ? " said she. 

^* Yes, Madame," replied the man, raising his hand to his hat. 

Wealthy travellers are not so polite. This gesture, and an 
inspection of the strau^^er's costume and baggage, which the 
Théuardier passed in review with one glance, caused the amiable 
grimace to vanish, and the gruff mien to reappear. She re- 
Buuied dryly : — 

*' Enter, my good man." 

The '' good man " entered. The Théuardier cast a second 
glance at iiim, paid particular attentiou to his frock-coat, which 
was absolutely threadbare, and to his hat, which was a littl^: 
battered, and, tossing her head, wrinkling her nose, and screw- 
ing up her eyes, she consulted her husband, who was still 
drinking with the carters. The husband replied by that im- 
perceptible movement of the forefinger, which, backed up by 
an inflation of the lips, signifies iu such cases : A regular beg- 
gar. Thereupon, the Thénardier exclaimed : — 

*' Ah ! see here, my good man ; I am very sorry, but I have 
no rix>m lef;." 

*' Put me where you like," said the man ; "in the attic, in the 
«table. I will pay as though I occupied a room ' 


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'•Forty 001».'' 

'• Forty BOOS ; agreed." 

"Very well, thenT' 

•^ Forty 80UB ! ** said a carter, in a low tone, to the Thénaiv 
lier woman ; ^* why, the charge is only twenty sous ! " 

^^It is forty in his case," retorted the Thénardiei, in th« 
%ame tone. ^^ I don't lodge po<»r folks for less." 

*' That's true," added her husband, gently ; ^^ it ruins a hoDS« 
lo hare such people in it.*' 

In the meantime, the man, laying his bundle and his cudgd 
on a bench, had seated himself at a table, on which Cosette 
made haste to place a bottle of wine and a glass. The mer« 
chant who had demanded the bucket of water took it to his 
horse himself. Cosette resumed her place under the kitchen 
table, and her knitting. 

The man, who had barely moistened his lips in the wine which 
he had poured out for himself, observed the child with peculiar 

Cosette was ugly. If she had been happy, she might have 
been pretty. We have already given a sketcli of that sombre 
little figure. Cosette was thin and pale ; she was nearly eight 
years old, but she seemed to be hardly six. Her large eyes, 
sunken in a sort of shadow, were almost put out with weeping. 
The comers of her month had that curve of habitual anguish 
which is seen in condemned persons and desperately sick people. 
Her hands were, as her mother had divined, ^^ ruined with chil- 
blains." The fire which illuminated her at that moment, brought 
into relief all the angles of her bones, and rendered her thinness 
frightfully apparent. As she was always shivering, she had 
acqnired the habit of pressing her knees one against the other. 
Her entire clothing was but a rag which would have inspired pity 
in summer, and which inspired hon*or in winter. All she had on 
was hole-ridden linen, not a scrap of woollen. Her skin was 
nsible here and there, and everywhere black and blue spots 
x>uld be descried, which marked the places where the Thé- 
aardiér woman had touched her. Her naked legs were thin 
and red. The hollows in her neck were enough to make one 
weep. This child's whole person, her mien, her attitude, the 
aoundof her voice, the intervals which she allowed to elapse 
between one word and the next, her glance, her silence, her 
slightest gesture, expressed and betrayed one sole idea, — fear. 

Fear was diffused all over her ; she was covered with it, so 
to speak ; fear drew her elbows close to her hips, withdrew her 
beels under her petticoat, made her occupy as little space af 


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possible, allowed her only the breath that was absolotelj neces 
sary, and hud become what might be called the habit of he» 
body, admitting of no possible variation except an increase. 
In the depths of her eyes there was an astonished nook where 
terror lurked. 

Her fear was such, that on her arrival, wet as she was, 
Cosette did not dare to approach the fire and dry herself, bot 
sat silently down to her work again. 

The expression in the glance of that child of eight years was 
habitually so gloomy, and at times so tragic, that it seemed at 
certain moments as though she were on the verge of becomiDg 
an idiot or a demon. 

As we have stated, she had never known what it is to pray ; 
she had never set foot in a church. *^ Have I the time? " said 
the Thénardier. 

The man in the yellow coat never took his eyes from Cosette* 

All at once, the Thénardier exclaimed: — 

" By the way, where's that bread?" 

Cosette, according to her custom whenever the Thénardier up- 
lifted her voice, emerged with great haste from beneath the table. 

She had completely foi'gotten the bread. She had recourse 
to the expedient of children who live in a constant state of 
féar. She lied. 

*^ Madame, the baker's shop was shot.*' •< 

*' You should have knocked/' 

^* I did knock, Madame." 


^' He did not open the door.'* 

^^ I'll find out to-morrow whether that is trae," said the Thé- 
nardier ; '* and if you are telling me a lie, I'll lead you a preUy 
dance. In the meantime, give me back my fifteen-sou piece.*' 

Cosette plunged her hand into the pocket of her apron» and 
turned green. The fifteen-sou piece was not there. 

'^ Ah, come now," said Madame Thénardier, ^^did you hear 

Cosette turned her pocket inside out ; there was nothing In 
it. What could have become of that money? The unhappy 
little creature could not find a word to say. She was petrified. 

^^ Have you lost that fifteen*sou piece? " screamed the Thé- 
nardier, hoarsely, ''or do you want to rob me of it?" 

At the same time, she stretched out her arm towards the cat- 
o'-nine-tails which hung on a nail in the chimney-corner. 

This formidable gesture restored to Cosette sufiicieut strcDgtb 
lo shriek : — 


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** Merc;, Madame, Madame ! I will not do so any more !** 

The Thénardier took down the whip. 

In the meantime, the man in the yellow coat had been fum- 
bling in the fob of hi8 waistcoat, without any one having 
Doticed his movements. Besides, the other travellers were 
drinking or playing cards, and were not paying attention to 

Cosette contracted herself into a ball, with anguish, within 
the augle of the chimney, endeavoring to gather up and concea) 
her poor half -nude limbs. The Thénardier raised her arm. 

*' Pardon me, Madame," said the man, "but just now 1 
caught sight of something which had fallen from this little one'f 
apron pocket, and rolled aside. Perhaps this is it." 

At the same time he bent down and seemed to be searchinf 
on the floor for a moment. 

*' Exactly ; here it is," he went on, straightening himself up 

And he held out a silver coin to the Thénardier* 

*' Yes, that's it," said she. 

It was not it, for it was a twenty-sou piece ; but the Thé 
nardier found it to her advantage. She put the coin in her 
pocket, and confined herself to casting a fierce glance at the 
child, accompanied with the remark, '' Don't let this ever hap- 
pen again ! " 

Cosette returned to what the Thénardier called ** her kennel," 
and her large eyes, which were riveted on the traveller, began 
to take on an expression such as they had never worn before. 
Thus far it was only an innocent amazement, but a sort of 
stupefied confidence was mingled with it. 

" By the way, would you like some supper?" the Thénardier 
inquired of the traveller. 

He made no reply. He appeared to be absorbed in thought. 

*' What sort of a man is that?" she muttered between her 
teeth. " He's some frightfully poor wretch. He basnet a sou 
to pay for a supper. Will he even pay me for his lodging? 
It's very lucky, all the same, that it did not occur to him to 
steal, the money that was on the floor." 

In the meantime, a door had opened, and Éponine and 
Azelma entered. 

They were two really pretty little girls, more bourgeois than 
peasant in looks, and ver}' charming ; the one with shining 
chestnut tresses, the other with long black braids hanging down 
her back, both vivacious, neat, plump, rosy, and healthy, and a 
delight to the eye, They were warmly clad, but with so much 
maternal art that the thickness of the stuffs did not detract 


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from the coquetry of arrangement. There was a hint of winter. 
though the springtime was not wholly effaced. Light emanated 
from these two little beings. Besides this, they were on the 
throne. In their toilettes, in their gayety, in the noise which 
they made, there was sovereignty. When they entered, the 
Thénardier said to them in a grumbling tone which was full of 
adoration, "Ah ! there you are, you children 1 " 

Then drawing them, one after the other to her Knees, smooth- 
ing their hair, tying their ribbons afresh, and then releasing 
them with that gentle manner of shaking off which is peculiar 
to mothers, she exclaimed, '* What frights they are !" 

They went and seated themselves in the chimney-corner. 
They had a doll, which they turned over and over on Uieir 
knees with all sorts of joyous chatter. From time to time 
Cosette raised her eyes from her knitting, and watched their 
play with a melancholy air. 

Èponine and Azelma did not look at Cosette. She was the 
same as a dog to them. These three little girls did not yet reckon 
up four and twenty years between them, but they alreaily 
represented the whole society of man ; envy on the one aide, 
disdain on the other. 

The doll of the Thénardier sisters was very much faded, very 
old, and much broken ; but it seemed none the less admirable to 
Cosette, who had never had a doll in her life, a real doll^ to 
make use of the expression which all children will understand. 

All at once, the Thénardier, who had been going back and 
forth in the room, perceived that Cosette's mind was distracted, 
and that, instead of working, she was paying attention to tho 
little ones at their play. 

"Ah! Tve canglit you at it!" she cried. "So that's the 
way vou work I I'll make you work to the tune of the whip ; 
that i will." 

The stranger turned to the Thénardier, without quitting his 

" Bah, Madame," he said, with an almost timid air, ^^ let her 

Such a wish expressed by a traveller who had eaten a slice 
of mutton and had drunk a couple of bottles of wine with bis 
supper, and who had not the air of being frightfully poor, 
would have been equivalent to an order. But that a man with 
such a hat should permit himself such a desire, and that a man 
with such a coat should permit himself to have a will, was 
something which Madame Thénardier did not intend to tolerate 
the retorted with acrimony : — » 


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<She mast work, since she eats. I don't feed her to do 

'^ What is she making?" went on the stranger, in a gentle 
voice which contrasted strangely with his beggarly garments 
»ud his porter's shoulders. 

The Thénardier deigned to reply : — 

"Stockings, if you please. Stockings for my little girls, 
who have none, so to speak, and who are absolutely barefoot 
just now." 

The man looked atCosette's poor little red feet, and con 
Anued : — 

" When will she have finished this pair of stockings? " 

" She has at least three or four good days' work on them 
still, the lazy creature ! " 

" And how much will that pair of stockiags be worth when 
she has finished them ? " 

The Thénardier cast a glance of disdain on him. 

*» Thirty sous at least." 

*^ Will you sell them for five francs? " went on the man. 

'* Good heavens!" exclaimed a carter who was listening, 
with a loud laugh ; " five francs ! the deuce, I should think so 1 
five balls I " 

Thénardier thought it time to strike in. 

* ' Yes, sir ; if such is your fancy, you will be allowed to have 
that pair of stockings for five francs. We can refuse nothing 
to travellers." 

" You must pay on the spot," said the Thénardier, in her curt 
and peremptory fashion. 

'- 1 will buy that pair of stockings," replied the man, *' and," 
he added, drawing a five-franc piece from his pocket, and laying 
it on the table, '• I will pay for them." 

Then he turned to Cosette. 

*' Now I own your work ; play, my child." 

The carter was so much touched by the five-franc piece, that 
he abandoned his glass and hastened up. 

"Bat it's true!" he cried, examining it. "A real hind 
wheel ! and not counterfeit ! " 

Thénardier approached and silently put the coin in his pocket. 

The Thénardier had no reply to make. She bit her lips, and 
ber face assumed an expression of hatred. 

In the meantime, Cosette was trembling. SLe ventured la 
«5k: — 

" l8 it true, Madame ? May I play ? " 

'• Flay ! " said the Tliénardicr, in a terrible voice. 


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** Thanks, Madame," said Cosette. 

And while her mouth thanked the Thénardicr, her wholi 
little soul thanked the traveller. 

Thénardier had resumed his drinking ; his wife whispered ii» 
bis ear : — 

' ' Who can this yellow man be ? " 

^^I have seen millionnaires with coats like that," repliée^ 
Thénardier, in a sovereign manner. 

Cosette had dropped her knitting, but had not left her seat. 
Cosette always moved as little as possible. She picked up som^ 
old rags and her little lead sword from a box beliind her. 

Éponîne and Azelma paid no attention to what was going 
on. They had just executed a very imx)ortant operation ; they 
had just got hold of the cat. They had thrown their doll on 
the ground, and Éponine, who was the elder, was swathing th*" 
little cat, in spite of its mewing and its contortions, in a quan- 
tity of clothes and red and blue scraps. Wliile performing this 
serious and difficult work she was saving to her sister in that 
sweet and adorable language of children, whose grace, like tlic 
splendor of the butterfly's wing, vanishes when one essays to 
fix it fast. 

*' You see, sister, this doll is more amusing than the other. 
She twists, she cries, she is warm. See, sister, let us play with 
her. She shall be my little girl. I will be a lady. I will come 
to see you, and you shall look at her. Gradually, you will per- 
jceive her whiskers, and that will surprise you. And then you 
will see her ears, and then you will see her tail, and it wil' 
amaze you. And you will say to me, 'Ah! Mon Dieu !* and 
I will say to 3'ou : ' Yes, Madame, it is my little girl. Little 
girls are made like that just at present.'" 

Azelma listened admiringly to Éponine. 

In the meantime, the drinkers had begun to sing an obscene 
song, and to laugh at it until the ceiling shook. Thénardier 
accompanied and encouraged them. 

As birds make nests out of everything, so children make a 
doll out of anything which comes to hand. While Éponine aiu^ 
Azelma were bundling up the cat, Cosette, on her side, Lati 
dressed up her sword. That done, she laid it in her arms, and 
sang to it softly, to lull it to sleep. 

The doll is one of the most im])erious needs and, at Uie same 
time, one of the most charming instincts of feminine childhooil. 
To care for, to clothe, to deck, to dress, to undress, to redress, 
to teach, scold a little, to rock, to dandle, to h\\\ to sleep, U- 
Imagine that something is some one, — therein lies the whole 


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ironiaQ*8 future. While dreaming and chattering, making tiuy 
outfits, and baby clothes, while sewing little gowns, and cor- 
sages and bodices, the child grows into a young girl, the young 
girl into a big girl, the big girl into a woman. The first cliild 
is the continuation of the last doll. 

A little girl without a doll is almost as unhappy, and quite as 
impossible, as a woman without children. 

So Cosette had made herself a doll out of the sword 

Madame Thénardier approached the yellow man; "My hus- 
band is right," she thought; ^^ perhaps it is M . Laifitte ; there 
are such queer rich men ! " 

She came and set her elbows on the table. 

"Monsieur," said she. At this word, -Wonsictt?-, the man 
turned ; up to that time, the Thénardier had addressed him 
only as brave homme or bojihomme. 

" You. see, sir," she pursued, assuming a sweetish air that 
was even more repulsive to behold than her fierce mien, " I am 
willing that the child should play ; I do not oppose it, but it is 
good for once, because you are generous. You see, she has 
nothing ; she must needs work." 

" Then this child is not yours? " demanded the man. 

"Oh! mon Dieu! no, sir! she is a little beggar whom we 
have taken in through charity ; a sort of imbecile child. She 
mast have water on the brain ; she has a large head, as you 
see. We do what we can for her, for we are not rich ; we have 
written in vain to her native place, and have received no reply 
these six months. It must be that her mother is dead." 

*' Ah !" said the man, and fell into his revery once more. 

^^Her mother didn't amount to much," added the Thénar- 
dier ; " she abandoned her child." 

During the whole of this conversation Cosette, as though 
warned by some instinct that she was under discussion, had 
not taken her eyes from the Thénardier's face; she listened 
Taguely ; she caught a few words here and there. 

Meanwhile, the drinkers, all three-quarters intoxicated, were 
repeating their unclean refrain with redoubled gayety ; it was a 
highly spiced and wanton song, in which the Virgin and the 
infant Jesus were introduced. The Thénardier went off to take 
part fn the shouts of laughter. Cosette, from her post under 
the table, gazed at the fire, which was reflected from her fixed 
eyes. She had begun to rock the sort of baby which she 
had made, and, as she rocked it, she sang in a low volce^ 
"My mother is dead! my mother is dead! my mother it 
dead ! *' 


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On being urged afresh by the hostesB, the yellow man, **tiM 
millionnaire," consented at last to take supper. 

*' What does Monsieur wish?" 

*' Bread and cheese," said the man. 

" Decidedly, he is a beggar," thought Madame Thénardier. 

The drunken men were still singing their song, and the child 
under the table was singing hers. 

All at once, Cosette paused ; she had just turned round and 
caught sight of the little Thénardiers* doll, which they had 
abandoned for the cat and had left on the floor a few paces 
from the kitchen table. 

Then she dropped the swaddled sword, which only half met 
her needs, and cast her eyes slowly round the room. Madame 
Thénardier was whispering to her husband and counting over 
some money ; Poninc and Zelma were playing with the cat; the 
travellers were eating or drinking or singing ; not a glance was 
fixed on her. She had not a moment to lose ; she crept out 
from under the table on her hands and knees, made sure once 
more that no one was watching her ; then she slipped quickly 
up to the doll and seized it. An instant later, she was in her 
place again, seated motionless, and only turned so as to cast a 
shadow on the doll which she held in her arms. The happiness 
of playing with a doll was so rare for her that it contained all 
the violence of voluptuousness. 

No one had seen her, except the traveller, who was slowly de- 
vouring his meagre supper. 

This joy lasted al>out a quarter of an hour. 

But with all the precautions that Cosette had taken she did 
not perceive that one of the doll's legs stuck out and thai the 
fire on tiie hearth lighted it up very vividly. That pink and 
shining foot, projecting from the shadow, suddenly struck tiie 
eye of Azelma, who said to Eponine, *' Look ! sister." 

The two little girls paused in stupefaction ; Cosette had 
dared to take their doll ! 

Éponine rose, and, without releasing the cat, she ran to her 
mother, and began to tug at her skirt. 

" Let me alone ! " said her mother ; " what do you want? ** 

»' Mother," said the child, " look there Î " 

And she pointed to Cosette. 

Cosette, absorbed in the ecstasies of possession, no longer 
saw or heard anything. 

Madame Th^nardier's countenance assumed that peculiar 
expression which is composed of the terrible mingled with the 


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trifles of life, and which has caused this style of woman to be 
Lamed megaeras. 

On this occasion, wounded pride exasperated her wrath still 
further. Cosette had overstepped all bounds ; Cosette bad laid 
violent hands on the doll belonging to ^' these young ladies." 
A czarina who should see a muzhik trying on her imperial 
3on's blue ribbon would wear no other face. 

She shrieked in a voice rendered hoarse with indignation : — 


Cosette started as though the earth had trembled beneath 
her ; she turned round. 

" Cosette ! " repeated the Thénnrdier, 

Cosette took the doll and laid it gently on the floor with a 
sort of veneration mingled with despair; then, without taking 
her eyes from it, she clasped her hands, aud, what is terril)le to 
relate of a child of that age, she wrung them ; then — not one 
of the emotions of the day, neither the trip to tlie forest, nor the 
weight of the bucket of water, nor tlie loss of the money, nor 
the sight of the whip, nor even the sad words which she had 
heard Madame Thénardier utter had been able to wring this 
from her — she wept; she burst out sobbing. 

Meanwhile, the traveller had risen to his feet. 

'^ What is the matter?" he said to the Thénardier. 

" Don't you see ? " said the ïbénardier, pointing to the cor» 
pus delicti which lay at Cosette's feet. 

'* Well, what of it?" resumed the man. 

"That beggar," replied the Thénardier, *' has permitted her- 
self to touch the children's doll 1 " 

'' All this noise for that ! " said the man ; " well, what if she 
did play with that doll?" 

" She touched it with her dirty hands ! " pursued the Thénar- 
dier, " with her frightful hands ! " 

Here Cosette pedoubled her sobs. 

" Will you stop your noise?" screamed the Thénardier. 

The man went straight to the street door, opened it, and 
atepped out. 

As soon as he had gone, the Thénardier profited by his a))- 
aence to give Cosette a hearty kick under the table, which made 
the child utter loud cries. 

The door opene<l again, the man re-appenrcd ; he carried in 
both hands the fabulous doll which we have mentioned, and 
which all the village brats had been staring at ever since the 
morning, and he set it upright in front of Cosette, saying : — 

** Here ; this is for you " 


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It must be supposed that in the course of the hour and more 
vfhich be had spent there he had taken coufused notice through 
his revery of that toy shop, lighted up by fire-pots and candles 
so splendidlj' that it was visible like an illumination (trough the 
window of the drinking-shop. 

Cosctte raised her eyes ; she gazed at the man approaching 
her with that doll as she might have gazed at the sun ; she 
heard the unprecedented words, " It is for you" ; she stared at 
him ; she stared at the doll ; then she slowly retreated, and hid 
herself at the extreme end, under the table in a corner of the 

She no longer cried ; she no longer wept ; she had the ap- 
pearance of no longer daring to breathe. 

The Thénardier, Éponine, and Azelma were like statues 
also ; the very drinkers had paused ; a solemn silence reigned 
through the whole room. 

Madame Thénardier, petrified and mute, recommenced her 
conjectures: "Who is that old fellow? Is he a poor man? 
Is he a millionnaire ? Perhaps he is both ; that is to say , m 

The face of the male Thénardier presented that expressive 
fold which accentuates the human countenance whenever the 
dominant instinct appears there in all its bestial force. The 
tavern-keeper stared alternately at the doll and at the traveller ; 
he seemed to be scenting out the man, as he would have scented 
out a bag of monej'. This did not last longer than the space 
of a flash of lightning. He stepped up to his wife and said to 
her in a low voice : — 

"That machine costs at least thirty francs. No nonsense. 
Down on your belly before that man ! " 

Gross natures have this in common with naXve natures, that 
they possess no transition state. 

" Well, Cosette," said the Thénardier, in a voice that strove 
jo be sweet, and which was composed of the bitter honey of 
malicious women, " aren't you going to take your doll?" 

Cosette ventured to emerge from her hole. 

"The gentleman has given you a doll, my little Cosette," 
said Thénardier, with a caressing air. " Take it; it is yours." 

Cosette gazed at the mar>'ellous doll in a sort of terror. Her 
face was still flooded with tears, but her eyes began to fill, like 
the sky at daybreak, with stranfje beams of joy. What she 
felt at that moment was a little like what she would have felt 
if she had been abruptly told, " Little one, you are the Qneeo 
of France.*' 


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It tfcemed to ber that if she touched that doll, lightning 
^ould dnrt from it. 

This was truts up to a certain point, for she said to herself 
that the Tliéiiardier would scold and beat her. 

Nevertheless, the attraction carried the day. She ended by 
drawing near and murmuring timidly as she turned towards 
Madame ïhénardier : — 

"May I, Madame?" 

No words can render that air, at once despairing, terrified 
and ecstatic. 

" Pardi 1 " cried the Thénardier, "it is youre. The gentle- 
man has given it to you." 

''Truly, sir?" said Cosette. ''Is it true? Is the 'lady' 
mine ? " 

The stranger's eyes seemed to be full of tears. He appeared 
to have reached that point of emotion where a man does not 
speak for fear lest he should weep. He nodded to Cosette, 
and placed the " lady's " hand in her tiny hand. 

Cosette hastily withdrew her hand, as though that of the 
" lady " scorched her, and began to stare at the floor. We are 
forced to add that at that moment she stuck out her tongue 
immoderately. All at once she wheeled round and seized the 
doll in a transport. 

" I shall call her Catherine," she said. 

It was an odd moment when Cosctte's rags met and clasped 
the ribbons and fresh pink muslins of the doll. 

" Madame," she resumed, " may I put her on a chair? " 

'* Yes, my child," replied the Thénardier. 

It was now the turn of Épouine and Azelma to gaze at Co* 
sette with envy. 

Cosette placed Catherine on a chair, then seated herself on 
the floor in front of her, and remained motionless, without 
uttering a word, in an attitude of contemplation. 

" Play, Cosette," said the stranger. 

"Oh! I am playing," returned the child. 

This stranger, this unknown individual, who had the air of a 
yisit which Providence was making on Cosette, was the person 
whoDQ the Thénardier hated worse than any one in the world ut 
that moment. However, it was necessary to control herself. 
Habituated as she was to dissimulation through endeavoring; 
to copy her husband in all his actions, theses emotions were 
more than she could endure. She made haste to send her 
daughters to bed, then she asked the man's fyermisaion to send 
^<wette off also ; '* for she has worked hard all day," she added 


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with a inaternal air. Cosette went off to bed, carrying Catiie- 

vine iu her arms. 

From time to time the Thénardier went to the other end of 
the room where her hustjand was, to relieve her soulj as she 
said. She exchanged with her husband words whioh were all 
the more furious because she dared not utter them aloud. 

' • Old beast ! What has he got in his belly, to come and op- 
set us in this manner! To want that little monster to play! 
to give away forty- franc dolls to a jade that I would sell for 
forty sous, so I would ! A little more and he will be saying 
Your Majesty to her, as though to the Duchess de Berrj- ! Is 
there any sense in it? Is he mad, then, that mysterious old 

*' Why !, it is perfectly simple," replied Thénardier, '* if tiiat 
amuses him! It amuses you to have the little one work; it 
amuses him to have her play. IIe*s all right. A traveller cau 
do what he pleases when he pays for it. If the old fellow is i\ 
philanthropist, what is that to jou? If he is an imbecile, it 
does not concern you. What are you woiTying for, so long a i 
he has money ? " 

The language of a master, and the reasoning of an inn* 
keeper, neither of which admitted of any reply. 

The man had placed his elbows on the table, and resumed hi» 
thoughtful attitude. All the other travellers, both pedlers and 
carters, had withdrawn a little, aud had ceased singing. They 
were staring at him from a distance, with a sort of re8pectfu4 
awe. This poorly dressed man, who drew '* hind -wheels " fron) 
his pocket with so much ease, and who lavished gigantic dolls 
on dirty little brats in wooden shoes, was certainly a magnifi- 
cent fellow, aud one to be feared. 

Many hours passed. The midnight mass was over, the 
chimes had ceased, the drinkers had taken their de]mrture, the 
di'inking-shop was closed, the public ix>om was deserted, the fire 
extinct, the stranger still remained in the same place and the 
3ame attitude. From time to time he changed the elbow ou 
^hich he leaned. That was all ; but he had not said a word 
ai nee Cosette had left the room. 

The Thénardiers alone, out of politeness and curiosity, had 
remained in the room. 

^^Is he going to pass the night in that fashion?" grumbled 
the Thénardier. Wlicn two o'clock in the morning struck^ she- 
declared herself vanquished, and said to her husband. ** V\\\ 
going to bed. Do as you like." Her husband seated bixnsel^ 


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at » Uble in the corner, lighted a candle, and began to read the 
Courrier IhxLnçais. 

A good hour passed thus. The worthy inn-keeper had 
perused the Courrier Français at least three times, from the 
date of the number to the printer's name. The stranger did 
Dot stir. 

Thénardier fidgeted, coughed, spit, blew his nose, and 
:Teaked his chair. Not a movement on the man*s part. ^^ Is 
he asleep?" thought Thénardier. The man was not asleep, but 
nothing could arouse him. 

At last Thénardier took off his cap, stepped gently ap to 
him, and ventured to say : — 

" Is not Monsieur going to his repose ? " 

Not gohig to bed would have seemed to him excessive and 
Jamiliar. To repose smacked of luxury and respect, Tliese 
words possess the mysterious and admirable proi>erty of swelling 
the bill on the following day. A chamber where one sleeps costs 
twenty sous ; a chamber in which one reposes costs twenty francs. 

" Well 1 " said the stranger, *' you are right. Where is your 

"Sir!" exclaimed Thénardier, with a smile, *'I will conduct 
you, sir-'* 

He took the candle ; the man picked up his bundle and cudgel, 
bind Thénardier conducted him to a chamber on the first floor, 
which was of rare splendor, all furnished in mahogany, with a 
low bedstead, curtained with red calico. 

" What is this?" said the traveller. 

'* It is really our bridal chamber," said the tavern-keeper. 
" My wife and I occupy another. This is only entered three or 
four times a year." 

'' I should have liked the stable quite as well," said the man, 

Thénardier pretended not to hear this unamiable remark. 

He lighted two perfectly fresh wax candles which figured on 
the chimney-piece. A very good fire was flickering: on the hearth. 

On the chimney-piece, under a glass globe, stood a woman's 
head-dress in silver wire and orange flowers. 

** And what is this? " resumed the stranger. 

"That, six," said Thénardier, "is my wife's wedding 

The traveller surveyed the object with a glance which seemed 
to say, " There really was a time, then, when that monster was 
a maiden ? " 

Thénardier lied, however. When he had leased this paltry 


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building for the purpose of converting it into a tavern, he haQ 
found this chani})er decorated in just this manner, and ii&d pur 
chased the furniture and obtained the orange flowers at second 
hand, witli the idea that this would cast a graceful sliadow on 
" his spouse," and would result in what the English call respec- 
tability for his house. 

When the traveller turned round, the host had disappeared 
rhéuardier had withdrawn discreetly, without venturing to wish 
bim a good night, as he did not wish to treat with d'srespectful 
cordial it}' a man whom he proposed to fleece royally the follow- 
ing morning. 

The inn-keeper retired to his room. His wife was in bed, but 
she was not asleep. AVhen she heard her husband's step she 
turned over and said to him : — 

" Do 3'ou know, I'm going to turn Cosette out of doors to- 

Thénardier replied coldly : — 

" How you do go on ! " 

They exchanged no further words, and a few moments later 
their candle was extinguished. 

As for the traveller, he had deposited his cudgel and his 
bundle in a corner. The landlord once gone, he threw bimscU 
into an arm-chair and remained for some time buried in thought. 
Then he removed his shoes, took one of the two candles, blew 
out the other, opened the door, and quitted the room, gazing 
about him like a person who is in search of something. He 
traversed a corridor and came upon a staircase. There he 
heard a very faint and gentle sound like the breathing of a 
child. He followed this sound, and came to a sort of triaug:iilar 
recess built under the staircase, or rather formed by the stair- 
case itself. This recess was nothing else than the'space under 
the steps. There, in the midst of all sorts of old papers and 
potsherds, among dust and spiders' webs, was a bed — if one 
can call by the name of bed a straw pallet so full of holes as to 
display the straw, and a coverlet so tattered as to show the 
pallet. No sheetb. This was plac*ed on the floor- 
In this bed Cosette was sleeping. • 

The man approached and gazed down upon her. 

Cosette was in a profound sleep ; she was fully dressed. In 
the winter she did not undress, in order that she might not be 
BO cold. 

Against her breast was pressed the dolK whose large eyes, wide 
open, glittered in the dark. From time to time she gave vent to 
a deep sigh as though she were on the point of waking, and she 


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strained the doll almost conv ulsivek in her arms . Beside her 
bed there was only one of her wooden shoes. 

A door which stood open near Cosette's pallet permitted a 
view of a rather large, dark room. The stranger stepped into 
it« At the further extremity, through a glass door, he saw two 
smalU very white beds. They belonged to Éponine and Azelma, 
Behind these beds, and half hidden, stood an uncurtained 
wicker cradle, in which the little boy who had cried all the 
svening lay asleep. 

The stranger conjectured that this chamber connected with 
that of the Thénardier pair. He was on the point of retreat! iii; 
when his eye fell upon the fireplace — one of those vast 
tavern chimneys where there is always so little fire when there 
is any fire at all, and which are so cold to look at. There was 
no fire in this one, there was not even ashes ; but there was 
something which attracted the stranger's gaze, nevertheless. It 
was two tiny children's shoes, coquettish in shape and unequal 
in size. Ihe traveller recalled the graceful and immemorial 
custom in accordance with which children place their shoes in 
the chimney on Christmas eve, there to await in the darkness 
some sparkling gift from their good fairy. Éponine and Azelma 
had taken care not to omit this, and each of them had set one 
of her shoes on the hearth. 

The traveller bent over them. 

The fairy, that is to say, their mother, had already paid her 
visit, and in each he saw a brand-new and shining ten-sou i»ieee. 

The man straightened himself up, and was on tlie point of 
withdrawing, when far in, in the darkest corner of the hearth, 
he caught sight of another object. He looked at it, and re<*og- 
nized a wooden shoe, a frightful shoe of the coarsest descrip- 
tion, half dilapidated and all covered with ashes and dried mud. 
It was Cosette's sabot. Cosette, with that touching trust ol 
childhood, which can always be deceived yet never discouraged^ 
had placed her shoe on the hearth-stone also. 

Hope in a child who has never known anything but despair is 
i sweet and touching thing. 

There was nothing in this wooden shoe. 

The stranger ftimbled in his waistcont, bent over and placed 
a lonis d'or in Cosette's shoe. 

Then he regained his own chamber with the stealthy tread of 
b wolf. 


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On the following moruing, two hours at Ibaob before a«ybreak^ 
rhéuardier, seated beside a candle in the public room of the 
tavern, pen in hand, was making out the uiU for the travellet 
with tlie yellow coat. 

His wife, standing beside him, and half bent over him, was 
following him with her eyes. They exchanged not a word. On 
the one hand, there was profound meditation, on the other, the 
relig;ious admiration with which one watches the birth and de- 
velopment of a marvel of the human mind. A noise was audible 
in the house ; it was the Lark sweeping the stairs. 

After the lapse .of a good quarter of an hour, and feome 
erasures, Thénardier produced the following masterpiece : — 

Bill of the Gentlbican in No. 1. 

8upper 3 francs. 

Chamber 10 * 

Candle 6 " 

Fire 4 « 

Service ....•• 1 ** 

ToUl . « . 28 franca. 

Service was written servisse, 

^*' Twenty-three francs 1 " cried the woman, with an enthusiasn 
/hich was mingled with some hesitation. 

Like all great artists, Thénardier was dissatisfied. 

" Peuh ! " he exclaimed. 

It was the accent of Castlereagh auditing France's bill at th« 
Congress of Vienna. 

"Monsieur Thénardier, j'ou are right; he certainly owes 
that," murmured the wife, who was thinking of the doll bestowed 
on Cosettc in the presence of her daughters. "It is justt but 
t is too much. He will not pay it." 

Thénardier laughed coldly, as usual, and said : — 

"He will pay." 

This laugh was the supreme assertion of certainty and author- 
ity. That which was asserted in this inanner must needs be so. 
His wife did not insist. 

She set about arranging the table; her husband paoed the 
room. A moment later he added : — 

" I owe full fifteen hundred francs ! " 

He went and seated himself in the chimney -comer, méditât 
ing, with his feet among the warm ashes. 


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•* Ah! by the way, ** resumed his wife, ''yon don't forge 
Ihat I'm going to turn Cosette out of doors to-dav ? The mou 
Iter ! She breaks my lieart with that doll of hers ! I*d rather 
loarry Louis XVIII. than keep her another day in the house ' " 

Thénardier lighted his pipe, and replied between two 
puffs: — 

*' You will hand that bill to the man." 

Then he went out. 

Hardly had he loft the room when the traveller entered. 

Thénardier instantly reappeared behind him and remained 
BOtionless in the half-open door, visible only to his wife. 

The yellow man carried his bundle and his cudgel in his 

*'Up so early?" said Madame Thénardier; "is Monsieur 
liaving us already ? " 

As she spoke thus, she was twisting the bill about in her 
Ijinds with an embarrassed air, and making creases in it with 
lier nails. Her hard face presented a shade which was not 
liabitual with it, — timidity and scruples. 

To present such a bill to a man who had so completely the 
»ir "of a poor wretch" seemed difficult to her. 

The traveller appeared to be preoccupied and absent-minded. 
lie replied : — 

" Yes, Madame, I am going." 

" So Monsieur has no business in Montf ermeil ? " 

" No, I was passing through That is all. What do I owe 
3 on, Madame," he added. 

The Thénardier silently handed him the folded bill. 

The man unfolded the paper and glanced at it; but his 
tiioughts were evidently elsewhere. • 

^^ Madame," he resumed, " is business good here in Montfer- 

*' So so, Monsieur," replied the Thénardier, stupefied at not 
witnessing another sort of explosion. 

She continued, in a dreary aud lamentable tone : — 

^^Oh! Monsieur, times are so hard! and then, we have 
so few bourgeois in the neighborhood ! All the people are poor, 
jrou see. If we had not, now and then, some rich and generous 
travellers like Monsieur, we should not get along at all. We 
have so many expenses. Just see, that child is costing us our 
very eves." 

** What child?" 

** Why, the little one, you know ! Cosette — the Lark, as she 
is called hereabouts I " 

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^^ Ah ! " said the man. 

She went on : — 

'^ How stupid these peasants are with their nicknames! Sho 
has more the air of a bat than of a lark. You see, sir, we do 
not ask charity, and we cannot bestow it. We earn nothing 
and we have to pay out a great deal. The license, the imposts, 
the door and window tax, the hundredths ! Monsieur is aware 
that the government demands a terrible deal of money. And 
then, I have my daughters. I have no need to bring up othei 
people's children." 

The man resumed, in that voice which he strove to rendei 
indifferent, and in which there lingered a tremor ; — 

'' What if one were to rid you of her? ** 

''Who? Cosette?" 

'' Yes." 

The landlady's red and violent face brightened up hideoaely. 

'* Ah ! sir, my dear sir, take her, keep her, lead her off, carry 
her away, sugar her, stuff her with truffles, drink her, eat her, 
and the blessings of the good holy Virgin and of all the saints 
of paradise be upon you ! " 

'* Agreed." 

*' Really ! You will take her away?" 

" I will take her away." 

*' Immediately?" 

" Immediately. Call the child." 

*' Cosette ! " screamed the Thénardier. 

'' In the meantime," pursued the man, " I will pay you wba« 
I owe you. How much is it? " 

He cast a glance on the bill, and could not restrain a start 
>f surprise : — 

"Twenty-throe francs ! " 

He looked at the landlady, and repeated : — 

*' Twenty-three francs? " 

There was in the enunciation of these words, thus repeated, 
an accent between an exclamation and an interrogation point. 

The Thénardier had had time to prepare herself for the 
shock. She replied, with assurance : — 

"Good gracious, yes, sir, it is twenty-three francs." 

The stranger laid five five-franc pieces on the table. 
Go and get the child," said he. 

A^ that moment Thénardier advanced to the middle of th^ 
\)om, and said : — 

" Monsieur owes twenty-six sous." 

' Twenty -six sous ! " exclaimed his wife. 


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" Twenty sous for the chamber," resumed Thénardier, coldly, 
" and six sous for his supper. As lor the child, I must discuss 
that matter a little witli the gentleman. Leave us, wife." 

Madame Thénardier was dazzled as with the shock caused by 
unexpected lightning flashes of talent. She was conscious that 
a great actor was making his entrance on the stage, uttered not 
a word in reply, and left the room. 

As soon as they were aloge, Thénardier offered the traveller 
a chair. The traveller seated himself; Thénardier remained 
standing, and bis face assumed a singular expression of good- 
fellowship and simplicity. 

" Sir," said he, '' what I have to say to you is this, that I 
adore that child." 

The stranger gazed intently at him. 

"What child?" 

Thénardier continued : — 

" How strange it is, one grows attached. What money is 
that? Take back your hundred-sou piece. I adore the child." 

" Whom do you mean?" demanded the stranger. 

"Eh ! our little Cosette ! Are j^ou not intending to take her 
away from us? Well, I speak frankly ; as true as you are an 
honest man, T will not consent to it. I shall miss that child. 
I saw her first when she was a tiny thing. It is true that she 
costs us money ; it is true that she has her faults ; it is true that 
we are not rich ; it is true that I have paid out over four hun- 
dred francs for drugs for just one of her illnesses ! But one 
must do something for the good God's sake. She has neither 
father nor mother. I have brought her up. I have bread 
enough for her and for myself. In tmth, I think a great deal 
of that child. You understand, one conceives an affection for 
a person ; I am a good sort of a beast, I am ; I do not reason ; 
I love that little girl ; my wife is quick-tempered, but she loves 
her also. You see, she is just the same as our own child. I 
want to keep her to babble about the house." 

The stranger kept his eye intently fixed on Thénardier. The 
latter continued : — 

"Excuse me, sir, but one does not give away one's child to 
a passer-by, like that. I am right, am I not? Still, I don't 
say — you are rich ; you have the air of a very good man, — if 
it were for her happiness. But one must find out that. You 
understand : suppose that I were to let her go and to sacrifice 
myself, I should like to know what becomes of her ; I should 
not wish to lose sight of her ; I should like to know with whom 
she is living, so that I could go to see her from time to time ; so 


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that she may know that her good foster-father is alive, that he it 
watching over her. In short, there are things which are not pos- 
sible. I do not even know your name. If you were to take her 
away, I should say : ' Weil, and the Lark, what has become 
of her?' One must, at least, see some petty scrap of paper, 
some trifle in the way of a passport, you know ! " 

The stranger, still surveying him with that gaze which pene- 
trates, as the saying goes, to the vgry depths of the conscience, 
replied in a grave, firm voice : — 

'' Monsieur Thénardier, one does not require a passport to 
travel five leagues from Paris. If I take Cosette away, I shall 
take her away, and that is the end of the matter. You will not 
know my name, you will not know my residence, 3'ou will not 
know where she is ; and my intention is that she shall never sot 
eyes on you again so long as she lives. I break the thread 
which binds her foot, and she departs. Does that suit you? 
Yes or no ? " 

Since geniuses, like demons, recognize the presence of a supe- 
rior God by certain signs, Thénardier comprehended that he 
had to deal with a very strong person. It was like an intuition ; 
he comprehended it with his clear and sagacious promptitude- 
While drinking with the carters, smoking, and singing coarse 
songs on the preceding evening, he had devoted the whole of 
the time to observing the stranger, watching liim like a cat, 
and studying him like a mathematician. He had watched him, 
both on his own account, for the pleasure of the thing, and 
through instinct, and had spied upon him as though he had 
been paid for so doing. Not a movement, not a gesture, op 
the part of the man in the yellow great-coat had escrtped him. 
Even before the stranger had so clearly manifested his interest 
in Cosette, Thénardier had divined his purpose. He had caught 
the old man's deep glances returning constantl}* to the child* 
Who was this man? Why this interest? Why this hideoup 
costume, when he had so much money in his purse? Questions 
which he put to hiuiself without being able to solve them, and 
which irritated him. He had pondered it all night long. He 
could not be Cosette's father. Was he her grandfather? Then 
why not make himself known at once ? When one has a right, 
one asserts it. This man evidently had no right over Cosette. 
What was it, then? Thénardier lost himself in conjectures. He 
caught glimpees of everything, but he saw nothing. Be that 
as it may, on entering into conversation with the man, sure 
ihat there was some secret in the case, that the latter had 
some mterest in remaining in the shadow, he felt himself 


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strong; when he perceived from the stranger's dear and 
firm retort, that this mysterious personage was mysterious in 
so simple a way, he became conscious tliat he was weak* He 
iiad expected nothing of the sort. His conjectures were put to 
the rout. He rallied liis ideas. He weighed everything in the 
space of a second. Thénardier was one of those men wlio take 
in a situation at a glance. He decided that the moment imd 
arrived for proceeding straightforward, and quickly at that. He 
did as great leaders do at the decisive moment, wliich they